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Highlights From Kamilah Moore’s Speech At Harvard University On Reparations


Kamilah Moore may be the chair of the historic California Reparations Task Force, but her work in reparatory justice stretches far beyond her role on the board. 

An attorney and reparatory justice scholar, Moore uses her extensive expertise and knowledge to advance the cause of reparations for Black Americans in various ways.

Recently, Moore was the closing keynote speaker at a reparations symposium hosted by Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.

During her speech, Moore explained why her work is so personal to her. She shared stories of her ancestors who were enslaved at the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana and those who lived in Chatham, Mississippi, according to a Twitter user identified as Nashon Dion.

“Kamilah Moore choked back tears as she discussed her ancestors who were slaves on the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana & those who lived in Chatham, Mississippi,” Dion tweeted. “When she wrote her speech, she didn’t think it would move her to tears. I didn’t think I would cry today. But I did.”

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Moore also outlined the many ways the country has victimized Black Americans to demonstrate why reparations are necessary.

“These are just as sampling of the atrocities wrought upon Black Americans since they first stepped their shackled feet on American soil: slavery, sharecropping, segregation, mass incarceration, police violence, extrajudicial killings, and deprivation of wealth,” Moore said, according to a tweet by Harvard Public Health Magazine.

Moore also interviewed with Harvard Public Health and reiterated some of the harms imposed on Black Americans by the country.

“We had expert testimony on transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. It describes how the negative effects of one generation’s adversity and trauma can affect the health and well-being of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” Moore explained. “This results in mental disorders and substance use linked to trauma, and an increased risk of health problems like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.”

She added the damage from those harms still exists today.

“Our interim report listed 12 major areas of systemic discrimination that still negatively impact the African American community today,” Moore continued. “We call them the “badges and incidents” of slavery our ancestors experienced. These are things such as housing segregation, separate and unequal education, racism in environment and infrastructure, stolen labor and hindered opportunity, mental and physical harm and neglect, and the wealth gap.”

Moore has been making the rounds as a speaker and thought leader at many reparations events and conferences. Symposium attendees said Moore’s closing keynote at Harvard was “powerful” and moving.

“Powerful keynote from Kamilah Moore quoting Ta-Nehesi Coates: “Never forget that we have been enslaved in this country for much longer than we have been free,” wrote Stephanie Simon, vice dean of communcations at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Made this space holy & sacred. @KamilahVMoore keynoting #Reparations4Health. Opens with 4-5 minutes of remarks. Cues that she is moving to more “substantive” comments. Proceeds to call off the names of African nations and tribes who were stolen away to Amerikkka—a strange land,” @comunivation tweeted.

“When I tell you Kamilah Moore is shaking the foundation of this building,” another user @PropCazhPM tweeted.

PHOTO: Kamilah Moore speaks at a Reparations Symposium at Harvard University on November 3, 2022. (Photo: Twitter / @FXBHarvard)

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