The National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants (NAASD) recently hosted its inaugural Reparations Summit and attendees left giving glowing reviews.
Held Sept. 30 thru Oct. 1 at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, the summit included a variety of trainings, sessions, speakers, breakfast and lunch events, and a museum tour.
NAASD also held an awards ceremony to recognize reparations advocates, organizations and media companies for their respective work to advance the cause. The Moguldom Nation and South Carolina Congressional candidate Gregg “Marcel” Dixon were among the nominees.
The cost to attend was $30 for virtual participants and $50 for those who came in person. In a calendar announcement for the event, it included the following call to action: “Freedmen come together to brainstorm, strategize, blueprint and finalize a community-built reparations plan.”
It is an accurate yet limiting description of what took place during the two-day summit. Though attendees certainly put in work, there was also a camaraderie among the group of “Freedmen” one had to be present to note and understand fully.
“It was a success because we were able to bring together reparations advocates from throughout the nation and it was better than I expected,” Tiffany Quarles, an advisory board member for the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California (CJEC) and NAASDLA, told Moguldom.
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“Some of us have been working together for three years and this was the first time we met in person, so it was like a family reunion for us,” Quarles continued. “It was just a joy to be around everyone and I feel like a lot of people left with a renewed sense of purpose.”
Aside from various NAASD chapters and CJEC, the organizations represented included the United States Freedmen Project; United Sons and Daughters of Freedmen (USADOF); The Truth Telling Project; the Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt (EGP) Pistol & Rifle Gun Club and more.
In addition to covering topics like how to organize effectively, set meetings, create calls to action, draft resolutions and do campaign fieldwork, issues like lineage therapy, the flaws of H.R. 40, why it needs to be replaced and others were discussed.
Devine Prince of the United States Freedman Project received a standing ovation from attendees on Saturday morning for exemplifying Freedmen values the day before. He said the summit was necessary and paid homage to the brave men and women who preceded them.
“This event was not only politically necessary but an ode to what our ancestors sacrificed for us to be here,” Prince told Moguldom. “We were Freedmen then, we’re Freedmen still and there’s nothing like the Freedmen’s will!”
Prince also expressed how it felt to receive an award for his organization’s activism named in honor of the original protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Mike Brown.
“If I’m being perfectly honest, this is the award that I wanted to win,” Prince told the crowd during his acceptance speech. “We come from a culture as far as hip-hop and being a Freedmen, especially in New York, where the tagline is, ‘Your idols become rivals.’ And in this space my idols have become my supporters, my allies, my colleagues; and what we’re building here is a space where my idols have become family.”
Fellow award recipient Crystal Gordon, who’s been active with NAASDLA for three years, echoed Prince’s sentiment. She told Moguldom she was “excited” to be at the summit.
“Someone said it was kind of like a homecoming and it is. It’s just a really good feeling to be around everybody. It’s a real family-oriented vibe,” Gordon said. “For me personally, just to see how far we’ve come and what we’ve been able to build; just to see it and then be reminded of everything in our history and what we have on the horizon, I think I’m just overwhelmed.”
Chris Lodgson and his CJEC team took home several awards for their impactful work in the reparations movement. Lodgson, who said he never wins anything, was humbly overcome with gratitude.
“The Inaugural NAASD Reparations Summit and Awards was an amazing event. I’m still on a high from all of the love and support from grassroots reparations organizers and activists,” Lodgson told Moguldom. “To be recognized by my peers was truly inspirational and energizing.”
“I’d like to thank NAASD for honoring CJEC and the California Abolition Act Coalition for our work for Reparations and Reparative Justice,” Lodgson continued. “The awards are a testament to the commitment of everyday people in California and all over the country working to repair our people.”
Jones-Muhammad, who also sits on the Los Angeles Reparations Advisory Commission, said she believes the conference was the next step in their work to repair American Freedmen and bring healing to America.
“Our goal for the NAASD Summit was to bring reparations grassroots organizers and organizations together to create a blueprint. We also wanted to recognize the people and the organizations that have been uplifting federal reparations for the Descendants of persons enslaved in the United States of America,” Jones-Muhammad said. “It is time to heal the nation.”
Organizers are already building on the momentum and planning next year’s conference, which will coincide with Juneteenth and be held in Washington, D.C.
Conference attendee Dr. Charles Edgar Hampton, who is interested in getting more involved in the reparation space, said if future conferences are anything like the first one, he wants to be there.
“It was a truly inspiring, informative, affirming and awesome experience,” Hampton told Moguldom. “I was also humbled because although I think a lot, the quantity and quality of reparations work already done was clearly evident in the presentations. Whatever I can contribute to the movement, I’m in.”
FEATURE PHOTO: Members of NAASDLA receive an award for activism at the inaugural reparations summit. (Photo By: Raphael H. Plunkett)