Howard University Professor Calls on U.N. Tribunal to Make Reparations to Black Americans

Los Angeles, CaliforniaSept. 22, 2022Los Angeles long-time resident, Walter Foster, age 80, holds up a sign as the Reparations Task Force meets to hear public input on reparations at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2022. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Howard University law professor petitioned a United Nations (U.N.) tribunal to pay every black American $5 million in reparations — a proposal that would not need taxpayer approval.

On Friday, Justin Hansford, a leading scholar in critical race theory, addressed the U.N. tribunal in New York City during the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, the Daily Mail reported. The forum will last four days, ending on June 2. David Comissiong, representing Barbados, proposed it.

Hansford was joined by colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University in his plea that the United States government atone for the sins of slavery and Jim Crow laws.

A descendant of slaves from Georgia, Hansford said the reparations owed to each person should be determined on a case-by-case basis. He said that for some, $5 million might be too low.

“I come to you today with a novel proposal, that we begin to think our own thoughts, propose our own vision of justice, and implement that justice,” Hansford said.

The head of the U.S. mission to the U.N., Ambassador Linda Thompson-Greenfield is a black woman. She did not publicly support the tribunal.

Decisions made by the tribunal are not legally binding. According to Hansford, it is just one route to push the federal and state governments to address racial inequalities.

Reparation task forces and commissions have been popping up all across the country following the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. This month, a task force in California forecasted that reparations to black Americans would cost the state $800 billion, more than twice the state’s budget. The city of San Francisco sanction reparations committee has recommended every black resident be allocated $5 million, as reported by the Associated Press (AP).

For years, academics from Howard University have been active in advocating for reparations. Two years ago, the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University gave free legal advice to the city of Evanston, Illinois, in their efforts to make reparation payments to black residents affected by racist housing policies before 1969. The city became the first in the country to carry out reparations, NBC News reported.


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