CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - From educating people about America’s history with slavery, to proposing new ways for national reparations, leaders with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) hosted a forum to open a dialogue on what reparations mean to the African American community.
Jefferey Robinson with the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality said organizers wanted to hold the forum in Charleston to highlight the history in the city.
“Charleston was obvious,” Robinson said. “Because Charleston is the place where the vast majority of African Americans were brought from the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”
The meeting was the second in a series of events aimed at furthering the passage of H.R. 40, a bill that was introduced to Congress in January that would create a commission to look into appropriate reparations for slavery on a national scale.
"Charleston becomes a part of a broader conversation,” Ade Ofunniyin, the founder of the Gullah Society, said. “Those who are here, our voice are in-joined to the voices of people nationally.”
In June of last year, Charleston leaders passed a formal apology for the city’s role in slavery. Dr. Ron Daniels with the National African American Reparations Commission Activists say it was an important step for reparations, but only a start.
“That’s the first step,” Daniels said. “The next step in any type of restorative justice is what are we going to do to restore the community and the people to where they once were.”
Organizers said nearly 400 people came to Saturday’s forum. They hope to hold similar events in different cities across the country in the future.