All across the country, people have been protesting for weeks, expressing rage and frustration at police brutality, inequality and lessening civil rights. Black people, in short, are fed up.
According to prominent civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, reparations is the only solution to meet the protesters’ demand for racial justice. In a recent op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times, Simmons, who is an adjunct professor of African and African American studies at the University of Oklahoma, wrote that the time is now for reparations. He is an attorney with Riggs Abney where he specializes in civil rights, wrongful death, personal injury, and sports law.
“For a long time, the word ‘reparations’ was a non-starter, but it is finally losing its taboo,” Simmons wrote.
The movement to provide financial redress to African Americans for centuries of subjugation and racial terror was already growing in 2019, Simmons wrote. HR 40, a bill to establish a commission to study the legacy of slavery and develop reparations proposals to Congress, is gaining support. Groundbreaking reparations legislation has been approved in Evanston, Ill. and a bill has been introduced in the California Assembly to create a task force to study the impact of slavery and offer proposals for reparations for African Americans living there.
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Simmons speaks often about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, which took place over an 18-hour period from May 31 to June 1, 1921. Mobs of white residents attacked Black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hundreds of African Americans were killed.
“The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, and one of the least-known,” according to History.com. “News reports were largely squelched, despite the fact that hundreds of people were killed and thousands left homeless.”
In 2000, a bipartisan panel of experts known as the Tulsa Race Riot Commission recommended that survivors, descendants, and the community of Greenwood be paid cash in restitution, according to Simmons. But Tulsa opposed payment, and the state issued decorative medals instead.
Recently, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum dismissed the idea of monetary reparative justice, stating that it “divides the community around something we should be united around.”
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“It’s time for Tulsa officials to do the right thing for racial justice and support reparations for victims like Mother Randle and their descendants,” wrote Simmons, who has represented many high-profile clients and causes including advocating for Reparations for the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
Simmons added, “At the national level, federal leaders need to support monetary redress for the intergenerational and continuing terror, trauma, and economic discrimination inflicted on Black Americans. The urgency of the protests across America shows that reforms won’t last unless we pay for the crimes of the past.”