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Crowd of protestors with one closed fist in the air while kneeling  with one knee.on the ground.

N'COBRA Celebrates 36th Year of
Fighting for American Slavery Reparations 

Kibibi Tyehimba and Wautella ibn Yusuf, Co-Chairs

Washington DC Metro N’COBRA Chapter

 

On Saturday September 23rd at Thurgood Marshall Center, in Washington DC, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) commemorated its 36th anniversary in the very city where its founding meetings were held in 1987. The celebration was hosted by the local N’COBRA chapter and the N’COBRA Archive and History Project (NAHP). Since its inception, N’COBRA has been the premiere organization building and sustaining the modern-day Black Reparations Movement. The celebration honored N’COBRA’s significant contributions.

A national membership drive was also part of the commemoration encouraging new and renewing members to help N’COBRA continue the mass-based reparations struggle for justice and healing from American slavery and its continuing legacy. N’COBRA is the only Black-led, mass-based-membership reparations organization, founded specifically to fight for the just demand for real reparations.

This event was also the first public display of the N’COBRA Archive and History Project (NAHP) by director and curator, Wautella Ibn Yusuf. This historic display unequivocally proves the role NCOBRA played in clearing the path for the modern-day reparations’ movement, which now includes numerous organizations working to make reparations a reality in our lifetime. Viewing the documents and photographs of so many founding members who are now ancestors was both informative and inspiring, but also bittersweet for some while surrounded by the images of so many of their comrades who are no longer here with us. Prayers and libation were offered for N’COBRA Ancestors by Nana Kwesi Jumoke Ifetayo, creator and maintainer of N’COBRA's Ancestors Shrine.

 

Several of the founding and early members who played pivotal roles during the early years of the coalition's work were in attendance, including

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L-R: Efia Mwangaza, Nkechi Taifa, Esq., General Kurstibisha X. Ali Rashid, Adjoa Aiyetoro, Esq., and Kupenda Olusegun

Adjoa Aiyetoro, Esq. Nkechi Taifa, Esq, Kupenda Olusegun, General Kurstibisha X. Ali Rashid and Efia Mwangaza; as were the N’COBRA National female Co-chair Kennis Henry, who spoke in the place of NCOBRA's male Co-Chair Woullard Lett, who could not attend due to health issues; and Northeast Regional representative Rashaun Williams.

While the weather prevented the attendance of our keynote address from Dr Raymond Winbush, Director of the Institute for Urban Research, at Morgan State University; and author of "Should America Pay"; his statement was delivered by Maynard Henry, Esq, grandnephew of Dr Imari Abubakari Obadele, who issued the organizing call that led to N’COBRA's founding.

Those in attendance “partied with a purpose", dancing the evening away to the music of Proverbs Rootz Reggae band and DJ One Luv. Despite expectations of doom and gloom because of hurricane warnings, the event was filled and were it not for the rain the event would have been at overflow capacity.

National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America(N’COBRA)
36th Anniversary Celebration Statement

by Woullard Lett, National Male Co-chair September 23, 2023

Greetings on behalf of the N’COBRA Board of Directors and our National Female Co-chair, Kennis Henry. My name is Woullard Lett. I have had the honor of serving N’COBRA in a number of positions over the years, most recently in my role as National Male Co-chair. It is an honor and an unexpected opportunity for me to serve the organization in this capacity and offer a statement today. This event marks the 36th anniversary of N’COBRA’s founding. Much has changed since then and some things have remained the same.

 

Some of what has changed you have already heard. I am sure others have shared how N’COBRA has been true to its mission and purpose of broadening the base of support for the, even then, longstanding reparations movement. A longstanding movement that existed but was not well known at the time of N’COBRA’s founding. Through its efforts to organize and mobilize all strata of the community of Black African descendants, the term “reparations” is now a common part of the political dialogue both within the community of African descent and the community-at-large.

Some of what has changed you have heard on the street, in the media and even at the ballot box. The support for reparations for African chattel enslavement is probably at one of highest point in U.S. political history. While what may have seemed like a lone voice crying in the wilderness at its inception, N’COBRA’s demand for repair is echoing on the street, in city halls, state legislatures and continuing to be a topic of discussion at the national level. The proliferation of groups and initiatives that have sprung up under the banner of reparations makes N’COBRA’s vision of mobilizing all strata of the Black community a reality.

 

We must acknowledge our achievements and celebrate our victories. But that does not mean claiming easy victories. It would be a lie if we said that all of the talk about reparations is really about reparations. Reparations means repair. It is not about remuneration for a broken labor contract. It is about the recreation of a human covenant. It requires that we address the dehumanization of the African personality in the European imagination. It requires us to match the remedy with the injury.

 

Yet some things have remained the same. Too often, in too many conversations, reparations is limited to compensation. The old strategy of creating confusion by creating a distraction, a diversion, a half-measure that appeases without achieving the objective is not a new thing. Compensation may be necessary but by itself is insufficient to address the harms resulting from African Chattel enslavement. We are aware of the strategies used to imprison our sister, ancestral queen, Callie House, and to undermine the Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Misinformation, disinformation, mischaracterization and other strategies used in the past are still alive and in use today. Many interim measures may be appropriate or necessary but insufficient because Reparations requires full repair.

 

Again, some things have remained the same. N’COBRA from its founding recognized that the reparations struggle was a human rights demand and much more than a civil rights issue. That meant that there was common cause with all African people who would struggle for reparations both domestically and internationally. In its founding documents, N’COBRA made the commitment to join with others in building an international reparations movement. The nativist tendencies within the U.S. reparations debate, often bound up in American exceptionalism, would have us to succumb to the classic Willie Lynch strategy of focusing on our different circumstances instead of our common condition to sow disunity and weaken the reparations movement both at home and abroad.

We have seen similar efforts in the past, whether well-meaning and wrong-headed or nefarious and intentional like CoIntelpro or National Security Memorandum-46. The reparations struggle is a human rights struggle not a civil rights squabble. Reparations calls for African people to enjoy the inalienable rights endowed by our creator to all humanity. Nothing more than our due. Nothing less than Ubuntu.

Finally, what has remained the same is that for reparations to be full repair it requires not only external repair and reparations in the form of resources, from outside our community, but also internal repair and reparations in the form of healing. There are some aspects of reparations that ONLY we can do for ourselves. Nobody can do them for us. Nobody can heal us. We must do that.

 

We can’t afford to wait for somebody else to decide our well-being is important enough to take action. External reparations is repair. Internal reparations is healing. N’COBRA’s founding included the purpose of serving as a coordinating body within the reparations movement. The ongoing need for that, the healing of the African community personally and the reparations movement collectively, is another thing that has remained the same.

 

N’COBRA has faced challenges both internal and external and we are not here to lie about that. It has much to celebrate though the victories have not been easy.

Our ongoing challenge is to identify and continually clarify our interests. Because we cannot afford permanent friends or permanent enemies but embrace and advocate for our permanent interests. We can’t afford to be like the trees who thought the axe was a friend because its handle was made of wood. We can’t afford to be like Yurugu who thinks they are exceptional and stand alone.

 

As above, so below. We must adopt and incorporate the symbolism of the Andinkra twin crocodiles with the shared stomach. When you share a stomach, you don’t fight over food. We need to apply this in our personal reflections. We need to apply this in our interpersonal interactions. We need to apply this with other reparations organizations and actors.

 

Let’s identify our friends and recognize our enemies. Let’s recommit to the mission identified 36 years ago in 1987. Let’s recognize that different conditions may require different strategies. Let’s acknowledge that different circumstances may need different tactics. But let’s continue to hold to the mission and purpose of N’COBRA as we have done in the past, as we are doing now, and as we move into the future. We still have work to do. But we also have much to celebrate. Thanks to you all for all that you have done and may do in the future.

 

Ubuntu. Asé. Ameen.

Farewell Brother Hughes Van Ellis

The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA) joins our African Descent community in extending profound condolences to the family and the community of Brother Hughes Van Ellis.  

 

"His testimony and presence put a face to the tragedy of the Black Wall Street Massacre."  We continue our work to repair and heal the community of African descent from the injuries of chattel enslavement and its vestiges. Bro. Van Ellis spoke up to honor his ancestors and demand justice for all. 

 

To honor his memory we must commit to holding up the flag of racial justice.  To honor his memory, we must be even more relentless in the fight for justice for the perils of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and all of those who lost everything.  We must commit our support to assure that this country does not forget the heinous crimes it perpetrated against yet another innocent community of people of African descent.   We pray to our ancestors to allow us to always keep the flags of justice from ever touching the ground. 

 

No statement can be complete without recognizing that racial bias is alive and well.  We see it when we are told that justice is swift if there are living witnesses who can tell the stories of the tragedies that plague our communities.  Brother Ellis, a living victim, delivered with elegance and grace his story and yet, no justice and no restitution for all of the harms he and his community have endured.  We must become hypervigilant and stop the statute of limitations from closing its windows permanently as our final farewell to Brother Ellis.  May he rest in peace.

 

Sorrowfully Submitted

The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America

Woullard Lett National Co Chair

Kenniss Henry National Co Chair

The ACCRA Declaration On Reparations & Racial Healing

August 2022

On August 1 - August 4, 2022, Black activists, artists and scholars from Africa, the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Central and South America convened to discuss a global agenda for reparations and healing. Recognizing the importance of reparations and healing as a global imperative, we are charging the Global African Reparations
Movement to build upon the legacies established by social movements that produced outcomes such as the 1993 Abuja Proclamation and the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

To View or Download the report CLICK HERE

California Reparations
Interim Report

June 2022

This interim report is a general survey of these harms, as part of the broader efforts of California’s Task Force
to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans (Reparations Task Force). The Reparations
Task Force was established under Assembly Bill 3121 (S. Weber) in 2020 and a report of the Task Force is due to
the Legislature by June 1, 2022. A final report will be issued before July 1, 2023. The law charges the Reparations
Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on society and living African
Americans. The law requires the Reparations Task Force to recommend appropriate remedies of compensation,
rehabilitation, and restitution for African Americans with a special consideration for descendants of persons
enslaved in the United States. This executive summary synthesizes many of the preliminary findings and recommendations of the Reparations Task Force.

To View or Download the report CLICK HERE

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Click Image Above To Download Press Release

Slavery Day Remembrance
Still Not Enough

Last year Congress gave us an $825 million holiday rather than a $20 million Commission; this year Congress is willing to give us a day of remembrance.  HR 40 has as many cosponsor supporters as this Resolution. 

 

Two months ago, you were asked to call the White House to ask for an HR 40 Executive Order and while many of you are still making those calls, we want to reaffirm that you are calling 202-456-1111.  

 

No one is saying not to have these days of observance, but that is NOT what we must have in order to repair our communities from 400 years of pernicious history and the current day vestiges.  

 

You MUST keep up the pressure on the White House and you MUST engage all of your networks, circles and friends to lean in and make calls as well. Until the White House gives us an Executive Order for HR 40, we MUST blow up their phone lines. 

 

Read this statement from Senator Warren:

Slavery Fueled Our
Climate Crisis

Who knew climate change is impacted by the government’s refusal to address Reparations for African descendants?

We did!

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