Kwanzaa Black Power Unity Calls On Biden To Issue Reparations For Slavery

Written by Ann Brown
Kwanzaa Black Power Unity Calls On Biden To Issue Reparations For Slavery Image: The Belle Brezing Photographic Collection, 2003AV1, Special Collections, University of Kentucky. Kentuckiana Digital Library via University of Kentucy

The New York group Kwanzaa Black Power Unity is urging President-elect Joe Biden to make a move to provide reparations for slavery.

Made up of community leaders, activists and voters, Kwanzaa Black Power Unity rallied for reparations in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant on Dec. 26. The Kwanzaa Black Power Unity wants Biden to sign an executive order within his first 100 days to make a $50-billion down payment for reparations for the enslavement of Black people in the U.S., according to News12NewJersey.

Other racial groups such as Japanese Americans have received reparations from the government, rally organizer Malik Callender said.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 the U.S. officially entered into World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that authorized the incarceration of people of Japanese descent, based on the suspicion that they were acting as spies.

More than 100,000 people — two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens — were detained in internment camps from 1942 to 1945. After a push for reparations that began in 1975 by the Japanese American Citizens’ League, President Jimmy Carter appointed a Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate the camps.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which apologized for Japanese internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized payments of $20,000 to each former internee who was still alive. The U.S. government disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans who had been interned, according to Densho Encyclopedia.

Members of Kwanzaa Black Power Unity say it’s time for reparations to finally be paid to Black Americas. Reparations, said Callender, could give the Black community much-needed resources. “We saw what happened during the pandemic. Black Americans were disproportionately represented in terms of death so now we have a serious health care issue in our community,” he said on a video shot by News12New Jersey. “The down-payment of $50 billion could be used to deliver quality healthcare services to our community.”

The group held the rally in honor of the first day of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is celebrated annually by Black Americans from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa was created by Black-American scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. Its name was inspired by the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in the African language of Swahili. Kwanzaa, the holiday, did not exist in Africa.

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“Each day of Kwanzaa is devoted to celebrating the seven basic values of African culture or the ‘nguzo saba’ which in Swahili means the seven principles. Translated these are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics (building Black businesses), purpose, creativity and faith,” The Conversation reported. 

On each day of Kwanzaa, a candle is lit to celebrate each one of these principles. On the last day, a black candle is lit and gifts are given. Kwanzaa has grown in popularity, so much so the U.S. Postal Service issues Kwanzaa stamps.