Technical Assistance

Supporting Organizations Committed to Reparations

An important part of our work is collaborating with grassroots organizations. We provide technical assistance through advocacy tools, research, and support capacity building. Below are some of our allies and their current projects that we are supporting. If you would like to work with AARN, join the Redress Network and contact us for more information.

House Panel Advances Bill to Study Reparations in Historic Vote - The New  York Times
Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

AARN recently provided a dataset of 165 municipal and state sponsored reparation efforts within the international human rights framework. This data was forwarded to Congressperson Sheila Jackson Lee to support HR40!

Africatown, Alabama

History: The enslaved peoples arrived in the U.S. on board the Clotilda. The Clotilda was the last ship to make the transatlantic trip with enslaved Africans on board. This occurred long after the importation of enslaved peoples from Africa was banned. To hide the evidence, the ship was burned and sunk in the Mobile River. 

Harm: Environmental harms, land theft, destruction of historical sites, economic and vocational disparities, education, health

Reparation: Africatown C.H.E.S.S. exists to ensure that the Africatown community, in Mobile, Alabama is Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe, & Sustainable. Our aim is to re-establish the unity in a neighborhood that once thrived as the example of the most loving and family-oriented atmosphere in the Deep South. Through projects geared towards beautifying our streets and homes, producing quality products and living standards, preserving the first public school for African-Americans in the state of Alabama, creating a community of watchmen, and retaining the culture and heritage of a nearly forgotten people – Africatown~C.H.E.S.S. will be the leading example of difference-makers in the historic Africatown area. AARN’s role: Using archival and genealogical research we are identifying and tracing the descendants of the enslaved peoples that arrived at Africatown in 1860 and are buried in the historic Plateau Cemetery. Alongside C.H.E.S.S. members, and the International Center of Transitional Justice, we are working to create a historic walking tour for the Africatown community. The inaugural lantern walk will take place in June in time for the 2022 High School graduation ceremonies!

Brown Grove

History: Brown Grove Community is a predominately Black community that was settled by freed slaves. 

Harms: Currently, the preservation of this land is being threatened by private development. The community has been inundated with industry for years. Examples include unattended businesses, displacement of homes and land, divide of the community by interstate 95; displaced families due to airport expansion. Wegman’s is now encroaching Brown Grove Community’s historic areas, which include seven African American cemeteries, a Black-only School archaeological site, and a historic, Black-only church. 

Reparation: AARN is working alongside  Brown Grove Preservation Group to stop the development of Wegmans and preserve the African American historical sites. Using archival and genealogical research, AARN is tracing land ownership. The expertise of Dr. Michael Blakey, an expert in African American cemetery preservation, provided additional recommendations to the group. Political support was required, and a list of VA state representatives was compiled to reach out to for support. 

AARN alongside the International Center of Transitional Justice sponsored The Brown Grove Empowerment and Strategic Planning Retreat. Read more at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights website.

Evanston, Illinois

History: Research in the Clerk’s office has found multiple instances of racial discrimination perpetrated by the City of Evanston.

Harms: Relocation of Black homes: In the 1920s, Aldermen began approving permit applications to move homes to the 5th ward, most of these homes were owned by Black families. Red-Lining and Segregation-driven Housing Policies: In the 1930s, the federal government convened the Home Owners’Loan Corporation (HOLC), which brought together mortgage lenders, developers, and real estate professionals across the country to design color-coded maps designating the credit-worthiness of certain neighborhoods. Red-lined communities were labeled as ‘hazardous” and subsequently denied FHA mortgages. These homes were located in the 5th ward. By 1940, 84% of African American households in Evanston were located within the 5th ward. Today, the 5th ward remains racially segregated.

Reparation: In March 2021, AARN pledged their support to the reparation efforts in Evanston, Illinois. Evanston City Council was preparing to vote on the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program. The Evanston’s City Council voted 8-1 on Monday, March 22, 2021 to approve the reparations program. Qualifying households will be awarded up to $25,000 for down payments or home repairs. Despite the approval by the City Council, the reparations ordinance is being threatened with legal challenges.

Summer 2021, AARN developed an impact study to prepare for future legal challenges. AARN is now completing an economic calculus to demonstrate the wealth impact of the Housing reparations in 20 years time.

Reparationist Stories

The AARN is working to collect oral histories from those who have worked on U.S. Reparation efforts. We are currently collaborating with Reparations4slavery to use excerpts from these interviews for training modules on historic harms. Reparations4slavery will use these as part of their curriculum to help white individuals make reparations to Black Americans. Our first interview featured advocates Waymon Hinson and Shoun Hill from the Black Farmers’ Reparation movement, who produced a documentary on their work “I’m Just a Layman in Pursuit of Justice.” Recently, we interviewed Ald. Simmons on her historic work in Evanston, IL.  Ald. Simmons is now Founder and Director of First Repair, an organization committed to assisting other municipalities with their reparation efforts.  

The Virginia Reparations Coalition

Who we are: The Virginia (VA) Reparations Coalition is a collaboration of members from local redress organizations, the NAACP, the VA Black Caucus, and the Resolutions Addressing Systemic Racism (RASR). The goal of the Coalition is to embolden efforts among its members by collaborating and building a consensus around redress. The Coalition guides AARN on ways to support the grassroots, regional, and state reparation efforts.

What we do: The Virginia Reparations Coalition identifies areas of inequity and unfairness to recommend the appropriate remedy to fit the wrong. We seek to drive actionable change in the laws, policies, and practices to enable adequate redress avenues to achieve economic and societal fairness. In 2022, the VA Coalition will being a public education campaign on reparations.

Other Projects

TAP

The Amendment Project aims to mobilize college-age students to lobby city councils for reparations resolutions as well as bring reparations further into our political discourse. AARN and TAP worked together to create a public campaign in support of reparations in Tulsa, OK. Currently, AARN and TAP are collaborating with local organizations in Boston, Massachusetts to forward a state-wide reparations campaign.

The Fund for Reparations Now

Who we are: The Fund for Reparations Now has launched their Red Summer 1919-2021 Digital Memorial. This is a collaborative project between the National African American Reparations Commission and The Fund for Reparations Now. The goal is to share the stories of the Red Summer 1919 in real time over the course of 2021 that no American should enter 2022 ignorant of this historical period.

The Red Summer took place over an eight month period in which anti-Black riots and lynchings occurred across the South into the North and the Midwest. 

What we do: There will be some 80 posts beginning April 13th and extending through the month of November to acknowledge and educate about the occurrences that comprised the Red Summer. Each post will have a date, a geographical location, and in some cases, individual victims to memorialize. Funds raised through this campaign will support efforts in Elaine, AK.