Before he died in 2005, the late Johnny Cochran was part of a group of civil rights and class-action lawyers who wanted to sue the US. for reparations for American Blacks descended from slaves. Their Reparations Assessment Group included Harvard law Prof. 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 was also involved with the group. Formed in 2000, the Reparations Assessment Group the group gained momentum and its members began to map out how the court-ordered funds would be spent, LA Times reported.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, broke their momentum. U.S. newspapers and wire services ran nearly 2,600 stories including the words “slavery” and “reparations” in the year leading up to 9/11. From 9/11 until 2008, the yearly average was less than 1,000, according to LexisNexis.
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