How Queen Mother Moore Created a Blueprint for Black Reparations

“Something that is often missing from ‘reparations talks,'” legal scholar Alfred Brophy observed in 2010, “is a concrete plan to repair past tragedies.” California and New York have joined the dozen states and localities that have initiated what they call reparations programs. As a central theme of the platform, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson proposed payments of up to $500 billion to the descendants of US slavery, but even that fell short.

Enslaved Africans were the first abolitionists – they seized every possible moment to liberate themselves and their families – and they were the first architects of reparations. Other groups in the US have developed successful reparation strategies—Holocaust victims, Japanese Americans wrongfully imprisoned during World War II, victims of the 11 US slavery got nothing.

The racial wealth gap is the most robust indicator of the cumulative economic impact of white supremacy in the United States. It averages about $850,000 per black household, for a grand total of $14 trillion. The combined annual budgets of all 50 states and each municipality in the country total approximately $4.68 trillion. Only the federal government is able to foot the bill, and a sufficient proportion of white Americans must support it.

Qualitative profiles – stories and narratives – capture people emotionally, but are often dismissed as purely anecdotal. Numbers establish patterns that can be generalized to a larger group. Black nationalist “queen mother” Audley Moore understood the importance of documenting racial differences and believed in taking grievances to a higher authority. In 1957, the Black Power pioneer submitted a petition to the United Nations demanding land for black Americans and billions of dollars in reparations, and in 1963 she founded the Committee for Reparations for Descendants of US Slaves.

Pan-Africanists cite Moore’s name because she also advocated decolonization and freedom for Africa and believed the federal government should fund black Americans who wanted to return to the continent. Moore appears to consistently argue that reparations should go from the U.S. government to blacks whose ancestors were enslaved here, and not to blacks who immigrated here after slavery ended, particularly the large numbers who died after the passage of the Civil Rights Act came. However, some of her vocal students have used her ideological Pan-Africanism to put words in Moore’s mouth to support the claim that US reparations should go to her Everyone people of African descent.

Equal parts oracle, badass, and political strategist, Moore and her associates launched the 1955 campaign to demand reparations in New Orleans after concluding it was the only way to “save our people from execution.” “. She wasn’t the first person to advocate a national reparations program for black American descendants of US slaves. This award goes to Callie Guy House, who was born a slave in Rutherford County near Nashville circa 1861. As documented by her biographer, Mary Frances Berry My Face is Black is True: Callie House and the Fight for Ex-Slave Reparations House tirelessly pleaded with the US government for pensions, a form of reparation for the 1.9 million people who were formerly enslaved, including the more than 180,000 black soldiers who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. White veterans received pensions from the federal government, House observed. Why no blacks?

Moore was born in New Iberia, Louisiana, at the end of Reconstruction in 1898, the same year House co-founded the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association. Moore’s mother, Ella Henry, had been raised in France after a wealthy white family chose Henry to be their daughter’s companion – better a black child they could control than the poor whites they despised. But Henry died in childbirth when Moore was five years old. Her father, St. Cyr Moore, a deputy deputy sheriff who had been evicted from a nearby town for fighting back in kind at a white neighbor who had “whipped” his infant son, would die, before Moore reached puberty. St. Cyr’s mother was the daughter of an enslaved woman and the white plantation man who raped her, and Henry’s father had been lynched trying to protect his lands. When Moore was very young, around the time her mother died, she witnessed a lynching in New Iberia. “I remember the roar…white men like wolves and the [black] The man’s feet were tied behind the car and he drove past our house,” she said; “His head was banging up and down on the clay, [on] the hard, crusty road.” Moore’s lived experience would determine her trajectory.

As an organizational Zelig, Moore was a member of the Communist, Republican, and Democratic parties, as well as (as she put it) the Elks and Freemasons; She was a Catholic, ordained bishop, and a convert to the Baptist, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Apostolic Orthodox Church of Judah. “I have all religions,” she said years later. “I have one goal, to win her for freedom.”

One might wonder if she ever worked for the FBI, which kept an extensive file on Moore over a 20-year period. Apparently, the agency approached her to become an informant in the 1940s. Her account of what happened: “I will tell you the truth…[when I am in] In my right mind I could join the Ku Klux Klan and know why I’m there, you know? I could go to the police if I had to.”

In 1919, during the “Red Summer,” white terrorists launched more than 40 attacks on black communities. The heroic military service of more than 380,000 black people during World War I had not ended disenfranchisement and segregation, debt bondage and racial violence. White supremacy at home proved an invincible opponent than the German army. Blacks in Louisiana and elsewhere were desperate to see an end to the slaughter and destruction of Black property. But they didn’t have the capacity to make it happen. Marcus Garvey believed the solution lay with blacks themselves. Like his hero, Booker T. Washington, he advocated a policy of respectability: blacks must take responsibility for “improving” themselves in order to show white Americans that they deserve equality are worthy. But first they must accept and celebrate their African past and be proud of their black skin. How Queen Mother Moore Created a Blueprint for Black Reparations

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