OJ Simpson Lawyer Johnny Cochran’s Last Dream Was To Sue For Reparations

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Written by Ann Brown
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O.J. Simpson lead attorney Johnnie Cochran addresses students at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., Saturday Oct. 28, 1995. Cochran spoke as part of the “Saturday School” program at Harvard Law School. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

OJ Simpson’s defense attorney, the late Johnny Cochran, before he died, was involved a move by some very powerful lawyers to sue the US. for reparations. The year was 2000.

“A powerful group of civil rights and class-action lawyers who have won billions of dollars in court is preparing a lawsuit seeking reparations for American Blacks descended from slaves,” The Washington Post reported in 2000.

They formed the Reparations Assessment Group. And among the members of the group were Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree; Cochran; Alexander J. Pires Jr., who won a $1 billion discrimination settlement for Black farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Richard Scruggs, who won the $368.5 billion settlement for states against tobacco companies; Dennis C. Sweet III, who won a $400 million settlement in the “phen-fen” diet drug case; and Willie E. Gary, who won a $500 million judgment against the Loewen Group Inc., the world’s largest funeral home firm. Randall Robinson, president of the TransAfrica Forum and author of  “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks,” was also involved with the group.

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“We will be seeking more than just monetary compensation,” Ogletree said at the time. “We want a change in America. We want full recognition and a remedy of how slavery stigmatized, raped, murdered and exploited millions of Africans through no fault of their own.”

“This country has never dealt with slavery. It is America’s nightmare. A political solution would be the most sensible but I don’t have a lot of faith that’s going to happen. So we need to look aggressively at the legal alternative,” Ogletree said.