Hustle Mindset

What Does The Historical Record Say?


Dr. Umar Johnson has always been very outspoken when it comes to reparations.

Pan-African educator and community activist Dr. Johnson is a doctor of clinical psychology and a certified school psychologist who specializes in working with the parents of African-American children who receive special education and/or are diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders, according to his website.

During a recent interview, a clip of which has gone viral on Twitter, Johnson broke down why he doesn’t feel Blacks are yet ready for reparations. “If someone is mentally ill and is in a mental hospital, and we give them a million dollars, does it reverse the illness? Does it do anything to treat the problems?” Johnson asked.

He continued, “So let’s take that it to if a community has no institutions, no way to track the money in their community and they own none of these institutions and you drop trillions of dollars into the community where none of the institutions that are going to take their money is owned by people who look like them.”

He added, “If we can not responsibly spend the money we already have, what makes you think giving you more is going to change your situation?”

He also stressed that as a Pan-Africanist, he is pro-reparations, and also claimed that reparations grew out of the Pan-Africanist movement.

But is he right?

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The first recorded case of reparations for slavery in the U.S. was to former slave Belinda Royall in 1783, in the form of a pension. Since then, reparations continue to be proposed and/or given in a variety of forms, USA Today reported.

 In the U.S., reparations for slavery have been both given by legal ruling in court and/or given voluntarily (without court rulings) by individuals and institutions. In fact, an academic paper published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst looked at slave reparations in the U.S. throughout time. And while the has been a contemporary push for reparations, the reparations movement has actually been going on for a long time, according to the paper by Allen J. Davis entitled “Historical Timeline of Reparations Payments Made From 1783 through 2022 by the United States Government, States, Cities, Religious Institutions, Universities, Corporations, and Communities.”

Following Royall’s fight for reparations in 1783, in the form of a pension, reparations has continued to be proposed and/or given in a variety of form. The 1865 Special Field Orders No. 15 (“Forty acres and a mule”) is the most well-known attempt to help newly freed slaves integrate into society and accumulate wealth. But President Andrew Johnson reversed this order and actually gave the land back to its former Confederate owners. 

Meanwhile, the Pan-Africanist movement started in the mid-19th century in the U.S., led by such people as Martin Delany (May 6, 1812 – Jan. 24, 1885), who was an abolitionist, journalist, physician, and Alexander Crummel (March 3, 1819 – Sept. 10, 1898), an academic and minster. Liberian educator Edward Blyden (August 3, 1832 – Feb. 7, 1912) was also a prominent Pan-Africanist, according to Britannica.

So it would seem that the slave reparations movement preceded the Pan-African movement, unlike what Dr. Johnson has declared.

Dr. Umar Johnson (Photo: Twitter, @DrUmarJohnson)

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