History was made in South Carolina but you probably did not notice. On the chilly morning of January 7th, eight individuals gathered at the North Charleston Felix Pinckney Community Center in the historic neighborhood of Liberty Hill, a community established by Freedmen, freed American Slaves and their descendants, to attend the first reparations event sponsored by a state party in South Carolina’s history since the days of Reconstruction; the period after the Civil War when the nation tried to rebuild the former Confederate states of the South, which ended in 1877 when Congress pulled the military out of the former slaveholding states who were there to protect formerly enslaved blacks and their descendants. The Reparations Workshop was advertised as a training “for people who aspire to run as candidates from local to state to federal office, aspire to be campaign managers, and who aspire to be members of a campaign team of a candidate who supports federal reparations for Black Americans Who Are Descendants Of American Slaves.” The organizational training was hosted by the elected chairman of the SC Democratic Party, Brandon Upson, fellow executive committee member, Nocola Hemphill, and caucus member, award winning South Carolina educator, activist, and current candidate for South Carolina Sixth US Congressional District, Gregg Marcel Dixon. Greeting everyone, Hemphill firmly declared to all in attendance that the days of black voters voting for any candidate, Republicans or Democrats, that offer no tangibles is “anti-black in essence” and that this training is to usher in a necessary “political reform in South Carolina where we will train and become the new legislators who will establish an agenda that repairs the deleterious side effects of America’s past”.
Attendees were shown a two part presentation by Dixon, the first titled “The Crisis Of Black America” which showed a number of sobering statistics about the current state of Black America like how Black Americans own less homes now than they did during Jim Crow, how Black Americans have lost 90% of the land they once owned, and how Black Americans at the end of slavery owned just 0.5% of America’s wealth and now own just a little more at 2.6%, nearly no movement 158 years later. “There is a lot of misunderstanding and lies out there about reparations. It is not a punishment on white Americans, it will actually help white Americans as it will help all Americans,” Dixon shared, “It does not come from taxes, it will not raise taxes, it will not cause inflation, it does not go to all black people, it is not based on race, it is based on lineage, and it only goes to Black Americans who are of the lineage of Descendants Of American Slaves, that is it, not black immigrants nor their children who are not Black Americans.” Dixon then presented the second part of his presentation, titled “The Repair That Is Due” which showed that America has not only done reparations before, for such groups like interned Japanese Americans, several Native American tribes, Holocaust survivors, Iranian hostages, and citizens of Guam taken as prisoners during World War II but they are even doing reparations right now, such as to those exposed to radiation during nuclear bomb testing by America, 9/11 families, and more recently, for veterans exposed to burn pits.
Highlighting the hypocrisy among those against reparations for Black Americans Who Are Descendants Of Americans, Dixon stated, “This country does reparations every single day for all these other groups, even though some of the people that went through the harm from the government at that time are dead, they still paid and are paying their surviving loved ones. Why should it be any different for the Descendants Of American Slaves? Anyone arguing against reparations for Black Americans, Freedmen, Descendants Of American Slaves are simply doing it because of anti-blackness because these other groups have been and continue to get paid the inheritance they are due. We deserve that as well”
Brandon Upson walked the attendees through the structure of organizing and how it is like trying to lift a table with just your pointer fingers. Two people using their two pointer fingers would struggle, but 10 could do so easily, the more, even easier. “That is the principle of organizing, recruiting more, to help do more, effectively.” The group then brainstormed and developed policies for a comprehensive reparations action plan to execute on the local ground here in South Carolina to help support the push of reparations at the federal level.
“As a country, we have demonstrated by legislative action that we believe in righting the wrongs done to marginalized, abused, and violated communities with reparative acts of justice through monetary reparations. Paid reparations to the Descendants Of American Freedmen are past due”, Upson closed out the session.
Asked why other groups, namely white Americans should support reparations, Dixon responded, “According to a study by Citigroup, one of the largest banks in the world, anti-black racism, and not doing reparations has caused the US to lose 16 trillion dollars since the year 2000,” Dixon discussed, “The current value of America’s GDP is 19.5 trillion, so we would be at least twice as rich if this country would have done reparations 20 years ago. It would have been three times as rich had they done reparations in the 90s, four times in the 80s, five times in the 70s, and so forth and so on. This nation spends trillions in its military budget and yet a nation as powerful as the US collapses from the inside so addressing the issues of injustice is the most protective action this nation can take. This nation spends billions on foreign nations and illegal immigrants but Black Americans are Americans first and only, any money we get will go back to this nation. Finally, it is either justice for all or justice for non.”
The attendees plan to have follow-up meetings where they will work on executing their action plan. For more information, please email the South Carolina Democratic Party Black Caucus at firstname.lastname@example.org.