Technical Assistance

Supporting Organizations Committed to Reparations

An important part of our work is c0-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 and 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. The study demonstrated a causal relationship between historically discriminatory zoning policies and the current racial economic and housing disparities in Evanston. The report supports the provision of a reparations program in Evanston. AARN is now completing an economic calculus to demonstrate the wealth impact of the Housing reparations in 20 years time.

See AARN’s impact study on Evanston here.

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.  

Colored School No. 4

AARN is working to designate Colored School No. 4 as an Individual Landmark.

The school is a critical reminder of the City’s segregationist education policy and history, which is not yet widely discussed or well- understood. It is vital to preserve this last remaining “colored” school in Manhattan to commemorate African Americans’ heritage in the City.

By the late 1870s, a movement to disestablish colored schools prompted demonstrative public appeals from black citizens—including Frederick Douglass—which influenced then New York State Governor Grover Cleveland to sign a Legislative act on May 5, 1884, that spared two separate race-based schools from closure: of those two, Colored School No. 4 was thereafter designated as Grammar Schools No. 81. Despite the new name, it remained a “colored” school into the 1890s until it’s disuse. The Board of Education gave up the building circa 1894.

“Colored” schools were the cultural centers of New York’s African American communities in those times. There was a concentration of working-class African American families in Chelsea during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. This school became a pillar to the immediate community. It also was integral to an informal network of other African American schools, churches, enterprises, missions and societies that anchored the growing Black enclaves of lower Manhattan.

Harris Neck Community for Justice and Preservation

AARN is working with Harris Neck Community for Justice and Preservation to preserve the unique Harris Neck culture, re-create a green community, and protect our natural and cultural resources. This work aims to represent all the surviving families that lived on Harris Neck from 1865-1942 or owned property as of 1942. It is created by and comprised of former Harris Neck community members, property owners, and their descendants.

The specific goals of the project is to: a) reclaim the 2,687 acres of Harris Neck, b) create a new community, c) preserve the Gullah-Geechee culture, d) protect and preserve land, water, and wildlife, and e) educate the public about Harris Neck history, various cultures, and ethics of land stewardship and racial diversity and harmony.

The new Harris Neck community would be like the original one recreated through modern technology to become the home of the rightful owners. There is a priority on a model of sustainable and culturally-harmonious living for rural areas. Plans are based off the ethics and values of living Harris Neck elders which include self-reliance, living sustainably and in harmony with nature, preserving the culture and land, communal responsibility, education, entrepreneurship, meaningful work and living-wage jobs, and offering quality goods and services.

Descendants of the St. Louis University Enslaved (DSLUE)

DSLUE was formed by three Missouri family groups, descendants of people enslaved by the Jesuits and made to build and sustain Saint Louis University from 1823-1865. In 2021, these families came together to honor their ancestors, to preserve heritage and legacy and to seek reparative justice for the generational devastation that enslavement had on their bloodline. In other words, their mission is to commemorate, preserve, educate, and seek repair through the creation of a 501(c)(3) heritage preservation and cultural education association.

DSLUE is working to bring together not only descendants of those who were enslaved during the Jesuit slaveholding diaspora, but other descendant communities, like those of Brown Grove and Tulsa, to support one another in their efforts for healing and for justice. 

AARN is proud to work alongside the Descendants of the St. Louis University Enslaved (DSLUE) on their efforts to secure 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.