‘The More, The Better’: Rep. Sheila Jackson, NAASD Members, Scholars And More To Speak At Reparations Town Halls On Same Day

‘The More, The Better’: Rep. Sheila Jackson, NAASD Members, Scholars And More To Speak At Reparations Town Halls On Same Day

Reparations Town halls

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006 to discuss offshore drilling. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Reparations town halls are in the air – and there are many events to come, according to organizers.

Allen Temple Baptist Church of Oakland, Calif., plans to host a virtual Public Ministry Town Hall, “Past Due Black Reparations,” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29 on Zoom. This is the same date and time that the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute is hosting a conference, “Reparations Beyond Equity,” on Facebook Live.

Neither party knew the other was hosting a meeting, but they said they welcome the variety of events.

“This is actually really awesome,” said Chris Lodgson of the National Assembly Of American Slavery Descendants (NAASD) and Coalition for a Just and Equitable California.

“We didn’t know there was another reparations town hall going on the same day, at the same time, but it’s actually awesome if you ask me,” Lodgson said in an interview with The Moguldom Nation. “I’m of the opinion the more reparations events, the more reparations conversations going on, the better.”

“One thing that’s great about the reparations work we’ve all been doing – no matter what side of the game or camp you’re in; no matter what part of the movement or army you’re in – the work we’ve all been doing over the past several years has grown,” Lodgson continued. “This space has grown so much that we can have multiple events at the same time and all events be very well attended and very well received. That’s beautiful, I actually love it.”

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Baba Akili is the director of Fannie Lou Hamer Institute. He echoed Lodgson’s sentiment in a separate Moguldom interview, stating that the fact that the institute was having a reparations town hall at the same time as Allen Temple is “pure coincidence.”

“I think it is great,” Akili told Moguldom. “The more discussion, the more activity and the more demands that are made for reparations at the local and state level, the more likely for HR 40 – the reparations legislation that was introduced in 1989 by the late Congressman John Conyers – to pass.”

Both reparations town halls boast some of the brightest activists. “Past Due Black Reparations” will include Dr. Joseph Evans, dean of the Morehouse School of Religion; Darlene Flynn, director of Oakland’s Department of Race & Equity; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, U.S. Berkeley professor and member of the California Reparations Task Force; Texas Congresswoman Rep. Sheila Jackson, who took up the mantle for HR 40 after the late Michigan Rep. John Conyers died; Kamilah Moore, chair of the California Reparations Task Force and Lodgson.

Fannie Lou Hamer’s speakers include Dr. Tabatha L. Jones Jolivet, Dr. Ron Daniel, Dr. Julianna Malveaux, Kamm Howard, Dr. Melina Abdullah, Dr. Maulana Karenga and Robin Rue Simmons. A brief bio for each of them can be found here.

Lodgson said the Allen Temple town hall was planned “from the ground up” after one of the church’s members, Carol Toliver, attended an NAASD event in Oakland.

“She [Carol] loved what was going on and wanted to do something with her church,” Lodgson said. “She took it to her group and they planned it. I found out Sheila Jackson Lee was going to be there two months ago and I was happy about it.”

Akili said he was “inspired” to plan the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute’s town hall after attending a reparations symposium in Evanston, Illinois in Dec. 2021, sponsored by the African American Reparations Commission (NAARC).

“It brought together people from around the country who were working on reparations. There were at least 25 cities that were represented at that symposium talking about the work they were doing surrounding reparations,” Akili recalled. “It prompted me to come back to Los Angeles and continue that discussion because part of what’s happening is figuring out how we build national discussion, education and support in our own communities for reparations and for H.R. 40.”

Akili said he was also inspired by the fact that Evanston, Illinois is the only city in the country that has agreed to give a cash payout of reparations to Black Americans.

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“Right now there are Black citizens in Evanston, Illinois, that are getting $25,000 they can use to put down on a payment on a new house or repair their homes and it is the only city in the country providing real reparations to Black folks,” Akili said.

Both Lodgson and Akili said the reparations town halls are just the first of many events to come in 2022 as they continue the fight for reparative justice.

Other reparations events

  • Thursday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. The Coalition For A Just & Equitable California will partner with Maximum Reach For Economic Equity PST to host a town hall to discuss what reparations should look like from the business development perspective.
  • Friday, Jan. 28 and Saturday Jan. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: The California Reparations Task Force will convene followed by Saturday’s forum.

Akili said he sits on the board of the Institute of the Black World (IBW) and one of their main projects, along with NAARC, is working with CARICOM around the issue of reparations. There are more events to come, he says.

“This is an important time. There’s a lot coming up in February and March too. We’re doing listening sessions, heading to Richmond and more,” Lodgson said, reiterating that he was glad to see so many others working in the space.

“It’s just a testament to the fact that this movement and this space has grown so much we can actually handle multiple events happening at same time,” Lodgson said. “The more, the better. Best wishes to everybody.”

“The more activity on the ground to support the idea, concept and initiatives for reparations, the more it demonstrates support internally and externally for reparations now,” Akili echoed.

To register for the Past Due Black Reparations town hall, click here. Tune into Facebook Live for Reparations Beyond Equity here.