Why Reparations are Owed; What Reparations Could Look Like

By Randall Hill

Major Democratic presidential candidates are talking about considering or paying reparations to the descendants of African Americans who were enslaved. Many of the candidates may simply be engaging in political pandering. Most candidates simply express support for a discussion rather than actual support for reparations. I haven't heard any candidate actually talk about what reparations might look like.

The definition of reparation is making amends by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged. The spilling of blood during the Civil War and nearly 10 years of Radical Reconstruction could have been a good start if the federal government had not abandoned efforts to protect former slaves.

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When the Declaration of Independence declared "that all men are created equal" in 1776, slaves were 20 percent of the population. Slavery existed in the former colonies and the United States for nearly 250 years, Jim Crow laws for another 90 years. Institutionalized and government-sanctioned discrimination including laws that led to unequal and substandard education, militaristic policing, unjust courts, mass incarceration, and other forms of oppression still exist. 

My great-grandmother was a slave, my father said how ashamed she was whenever slavery was mentioned. There were no amends made to her or any other slave for their suffering. Her situation directly affected my grandfather, which directly affected my father, which directly affected me, which directly affects my children.

During slavery men, women and children were raped by their straight, gay or pedophile owners. Medical schools used slaves for medical experiments and practiced surgical procedures on slaves. Families were torn apart. People were tortured, maimed, and killed. The worst atrocities imaginable today were legal because people were reduced to mere property.

After the abolition of slavery; convict leasing, peonage, and Jim Crow kept blacks in slave-like conditions. Black Americans lived in terror because the government refused to offer any meaningful protection from angry or jealous white men. Lynchings and other racially motivated killings were common and unpunished. Prosperous Black neighborhoods such as Tulsa, OK, and Rosewood, FL were looted, burned, bombed and land theft was common. 

The government engineered a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. Social Security was originally designed to prevent 80% of the black population from participating. Federal housing programs that helped create the white middle class, implemented a redlining system which prevented blacks from benefiting.

Government-sponsored experiments such as Tuskegee and Pruitt Igoe have been revealed. Blacks originally were systematically excluded from U.S. farm bills, unemployment compensation, the minimum wage, protection of the right of workers to join labor unions and the G.I. Bill. Law enforcement sabotaged the Civil Rights Movement, In 1972 and 1996 the CIA was linked to drug traffic in black neighborhoods.

The government through legislation, policy, and court decisions actively participated in black oppression. Government inaction encouraged treachery and terrorism so vast it was easy to "keep negroes in their place" effectively eliminating the creation of black opportunity and wealth. 

Slave Owner Reparations

In 1833, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison said at the National Anti-Slavery Convention in Philadelphia: “If compensation is to be given at all, it should be given to the outraged and guiltless slaves, and not to those who have plundered and abused them.” Garrison may have referenced the 1833 "Slavery Abolition Act"  when more than 46,000 British slave owners were compensated for freed slaves.

The District of Columbia Emancipation Act, which prohibited slavery in the District, was signed into law on April 16, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln, forcing over 900 slaveholders to free their slaves.

The government paid to slave owners that were loyal to the Union up to $300 for every enslaved person freed. Slaveowners received payment, slaves received nothing. 

The Debt

When you purchase or inherit real estate and other property, you also assume or inherit the debt; mortgages, taxes, and liens attached to the property. For those who directly experienced slavery and Jim Crow who since died, a debt is owed to their estates; and their descendants are the beneficiaries. The government sanctioned slavery; individuals, churches, corporations, universities, and other institutions actively participated. Georgetown University exists today because of slavery.

The partial list of current corporations and institutions that benefited from slavery include:

AIG, Aetna, Bank of America, Brooks Brothers, Brown Brothers Harriman, Brown Unversity, Columbia, CSX, Fleet, Gannet, Georgetown, Havard, JP Morgan Chase, New York Life, Norfolk Southern, Princeton, Tiffany, University of Virginia, Wells Fargo, Yale, and the list goes one.

All White people passively benefited from the wealth and opportunity created by slavery and Jim Crow. White immigrants decreased the overall percentage of black people and diluted the effectiveness of the black vote. Immigrants benefited from opportunities in a country made prosperous off the backs of the enslaved and directly from professions and job denied to blacks. 

The political scientist Thomas Craemer calculated the hours worked by enslaved black workers between 1776 and the official end of slavery. He estimates this uncompensated labor totaled between $5.9 and $14.2 trillion in current dollars.

What reparations could look like?

During a discussion with one of my closest friends in response to his skepticism about any workable reparation solutions, I mentioned what I thought to be some simple ways to identify who should benefit and how to implement. 

Reparations should be a combination of social, institutional, and economic solutions that are specific to African American Descendants of Slaves (ADOS). No other group of people was legally brought to the United States by force. Congress should exempt reparations from discrimination or racial exclusion statutes or regulations since they are in effect debts owed and not benefits. However, some solutions, especially those related to a fairer criminal justice system, will, directly and indirectly, benefit other groups. White companies supplying building supplies and other durable goods will also directly benefit.

Although others, most notably Native Americans, perhaps are owed reparations, this discussion is limited to the debt owed to the Black ADOS. Other so-called solutions were never exclusive to Blacks.

Equal Opportunity

Equal opportunity solutions may have been well-intentioned, but in reality, were distorted myths. Affirmative Action, for example, benefited white women more than any other group. There was never any real equal opportunity for black people. If there are vast differences in education, access to credit, transportation, housing, medical care and just about everything else, how is anything equal? 

Some concepts are easier to construct and implement; those should be worked on first and others more complex solutions later. Solutions should also have incentives to maximize positive impact on the community.

United Nations Recommends Reparations

At the invitation of the U.S. Government, a group of experts from the United Nations visited the country in 2016 to study and make a recommendation concerning people of African Descent.

The Group urged in their report that the United States consider seriously applying a Ten-Point Action Plan on Reparations, which includes a formal apology, health initiatives, educational opportunities, an African knowledge program, psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer and financial support, and debt cancellation. The following statements were included within the report:

  • Despite these legal and constitutional developments (13th, 14th & 15 amendments), the prevalence of “Jim Crow” laws — laws at the state and local levels that enforced racial segregation and persecution, primarily in the southern states — perpetuated political disenfranchisement, social and economic exploitation, violence and the overall subjugation of people of African descent until the 1960s. Lynching was a form of racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the United States must address. Thousands of people of African descent were killed in violent public acts of racial control and domination and the perpetrators were never held accountable.
  • Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, a systemic ideology of racism ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to impact negatively on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today.
  • The Working Group is deeply concerned at the alarming levels of police brutality and excessive use of lethal force by law enforcement officials, committed with impunity against people of African descent in the United States. 
  • The Working Group is deeply concerned about the low number of cases where police officers have been held accountable for these crimes, despite the evidence.
  • Killings of unarmed African Americans by the police is only the tip of the iceberg in what is a pervasive racial bias in the justice system.
  • The Working Group was informed that the “War on Drugs” had had a devastating impact on African Americans and that mass incarceration was considered a system of racial control that operated in a similar way to how Jim Crow laws once operated.
  • The complex organizational structure of the legal system, with the independence of federal, state and county jurisdictions, and the lack of direct applicability of international human rights law and policies, create gaps that impact deeply on the human rights of African Americans. 
  • There is a profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic trade in Africans, enslavement, colonization, and colonialism were crimes against humanity and are among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, and related intolerance. Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.  

Who should be Eligible for Reparations?

In the United States, any person known to have African ancestry was considered Black. This was often called the "one drop rule" and some courts referred to it as the "traceable amount rule". As historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham stated in regard to race, "most people believe that they know it when they see it but arrive at nothing short of confusion when pressed to define it." 

In 1860, ninety percent of the four million Black people in the U.S. were slaves. Of the ten percent of free Blacks, its safe to assume that virtually all of them were either former slaves or descendants. Even descendants of the handful of black indentured servants such as Anthony Johnson married slaves or former slaves resulting in every black person at that time having a slave in their ancestry. Most of the nation’s 40 million U.S.-born blacks trace their roots to this population.

Significant voluntary Black immigration to the U.S. did not begin until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the Refugee Act of 1980 and the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990 when immigration policy changed restrictions on foreign-born blacks. Black people that can trace their ancestry to 1960 should be assumed to be ADOS. For example, my 20-year-old son can prove thru birth records that I was born in 1965 and since my parents were born in the 1920s and 1930s; he satisfies the 1960 rule.

Having Black skin creates barriers which even White people understand because most white people would not want to be treated the way Black people are. Some Black ADOS people with fair skin passed as white and thereby obtained some degree of white privilege. However, even they had to endure being separated from their family, listening to derogatory comments, denying who they were and living in fear of being caught. White privilege is misunderstood, it simply means that white people enjoy the benefit of being treated as normal.   

Any Black person who is ADOS should be able to benefit from reparations. Regardless of personal achievement or those made by their ancestors; harm whether physically, emotionally, socially or financially was endured. However, the initial concentration of corrective solutions should be aimed at those who are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Those below the poverty line should be among the first to benefit.   

REPARATION SOLUTIONS

Nothing can ever be sufficient restitution for the spiritual, mental, cultural and physical damages inflicted by slavery, Jim Crow and racism. However, something must be done to repair the damage.

Apology

The first step should be an official government apology for slavery and its aftermath that acknowledges that harm was done not only to slaves but to their descendants. However, apologies are meaningless without change.

The video below shows the emotional response when a descendant of a former slave owner apologizes to descendants former slaves.

Reparations Commission

A reparations commission comprising a super majority of ADOS (2/3) should be created to study slavery, the aftermath, the value of uncompensated labor, lost opportunity and pain and suffering. The people who were victims should have the most say in determining what they suffered.

Psychological Rehabilitation

For nearly 250 years Africans and their descendants were denied recognition as members of the human family and were classified in law as non-human, chattel, property, and real estate. This history has inflicted massive psychological trauma upon African descendant populations. As Dr. Joy de Gruy Leary argues, African-Americans are suffering from post-traumatic slave syndrome. Only a reparatory justice approach to truth and educational exposure can begin the process of healing and repair. Part of the dehumanizing process of making a slave was to make Africans descendants hate themselves. Generations of psychological damaged need to be acknowledged and dealt with.

Broadcast Licenses

Broadcasting is the most influential industry in the United States. African-Americans were regularly given stereotypic roles that depicted them as lazy, ignorant, and generally derogatory by mass media. The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) and then the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) excluded Black people from ownership of the airways by denying licensing. When the U.S. government first started giving away free licenses in the 1930s, they were distributed exclusively to white, male owners. As technology developed from radio to television and then cable, the same, white-owned companies continued to lead the pack because they could adapt to the new technology fastest. As a result, horrible negative images of black people were transmitted all around the world. As a group, we had no means to counter these images or broadcast information to a national audience. Reparations should include free broadcast licenses. A corporation comprised of shareholders restricted to black churches, black organizations, black entertainers and individual black people should be formed to accept broadcast licenses from the FCC.  

Education

Education or should I say miseducation was used as a weapon against Black people during and after slavery. Because knowledge is power, slaves were denied the right to read or write. The slavemaster was able to easily deceive slaves with lies and half-truths. One of the most glaring examples was the "slave bible". A normal "King James" version has 1189 chapters, but the slave bible only contained 232 chapters.

Ironically, even the bible states that reparations for slavery should be provided:

And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.

                                                                                                              — deuteronomy 15: 12–15

After slavery, white-controlled, often racist school boards, rather than slave masters directed miseducation of black people. The 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown vs The Board of Education,  made it clear that black schools were so inferior that the quality of education was unconstitutional. Today, 65 years after Brown, the situation is even worse. The cure was worse than the disease. Busing was the primary solution. White schools received even more funding to accommodate black students. Those funds were used to upgrade facilities and programs, while black schools suffered and closed. Many of the most stable and brightest black students were removed along with their positive influence and impact. Some of the best teachers also left. When bussing programs were eliminated, black students were trapped in schools suffering from decades of decline.       

Public schools in the U.S. should teach the truth about the horrors of slavery and its aftermath instead of the sanitized whitewashed version usually taught. For example, "The Great Migration" is the general term used to describe how 6 million black people moved north from the south. The whitewashed narrative states better job opportunity was the motivation. In reality, those "migrants" were refugees fleeing terrorism, persecution, violence and were seeking asylum only to find a different form of oppression in the north.    

Public school funding should not be based on property taxes. Schools in predominantly black neighborhoods, because of lower property taxes, would remain substandard. These schools provide limited electives, advanced courses, are often in disrepair, have limited supplies, outdated textbooks or may not have books at all.  Enrichment and extracurricular programs that help motivate and keep students interested in attending a school such as art, band, choir, drama, sports, student government, debate, robotics, and others won't exist or will be eliminated due to lack of funding.

Free college tuition including books, room and board should be made available to all low-income ADOS students. A small monthly stipend to cover necessary costs such as toiletries, laundry, and personal care items could also be included. 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are in the best position to help black students and should receive reparation grants for operating expenses, to improve, modernize and expand their programs and facilities. The improvements will allow HBCUs to attract additional instructors and students. Program expansion should include fields critically needed within the black communities and others where Blacks are underrepresented, for example:

  • Agricultural programs: that include some sort of land, equipment and operating grant to help create a new generation of black farmers to decrease urban food desserts. Government discrimination caused many Black farmers to lose their farms.
  • Business: As Black people were increasingly segregated and cut off from the larger white community, black entrepreneurs established flourishing businesses that catered to black customers. The period between 1900 and 1930 has been called the "golden age of black business". Due to jealousy, envy or greed, white Americans including city officials and members of law enforcement destroyed prosperous black businesses and entire communities. Punitive zoning laws, business license denials, and various other tactics were used to prevent black people from opening and operating a business. Grants for entrepreneurial training and business funding should be part of reparations. 
  • Trade education programs: the major trades which include carpentry, plumbing, electrical, heating & cooling and others systematically excluded black people from training and jobs. Quoting a New York Times article, "The building of houses, offices and factories, of bridges and dams and highways, is still largely white man's work in America." Reparation grants should include trade education. Improvement grants to black homeowners in neighborhoods suffering from decades of neglect should be issued. Grants should be restricted to employ the students and graduates of those program and qualified black-owned businesses.  
  • Teacher programs: We need more Black teachers in public schools. Cultural differences and lack of understanding cause white teachers to discipline excessively contributing to the school to prison pipeline. America’s public school population has been majority children of color since 2014. 50.4 million kids were in public schools; in the fall of 2016; 24.6 million (49%) were white and 25.9 million (51%) were kids of color.  Research shows that teachers of color help close achievement gaps for students of color and are highly rated by students of all races. About 80 percent of all public school teachers are White, 9 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Black, and 2 percent were Asian” during the 2015-16 school year. Certification rules and tests and racial bias in hiring are keeping would-be teachers of color out of America’s classrooms. Reparation incentives for black teachers and modifications to certification and hiring processes are needed.
  • Doctors. nurses and other medical professions: As a child, I vividly remember a large number of black nurses and doctors in St. Louis area hospitals. I'm certain this was due to Homer G. Phillips Hospital, which trained the largest number of black doctors and nurses in the world. Now, Forty years after the hospital's closing, black doctors and nurses are rare finds in hospitals; and when they are found they are often foreign-born.
  • Lawyers: Howard University's Law School under the leadership of Charles Hamilton Houston, contributed greatly to the most important civil right legal victories. While nearly 40 percent of incarcerated prisoners are African-American, only 4.8 percent of lawyers are African-American, 88 percent of lawyers are white. The American Bar Association (ABA) was formed in 1878, one year after the reconstruction ended. Prior to the ABA, most practicing lawyers never attended law school. The ABA caused blacks to be excluded from the legal profession by colluding with state governments and courts making it more difficult to become a lawyer.  Studies show that white attorneys might have biases that result in less favorable outcomes for their black clients; the same holds true for prosecutors and judges. 

Criminal Justice

Ending mandatory prison sentences and mass incarceration practices which disproportionally affect people of color. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, incarceration costs an average of more than $31,000 per inmate, per year. There are nearly 2.2 million incarcerated adults, and more than 4.5 million under probation or parole supervision, which cost nearly $4,400 after the sentence is completed. The country would save $3.1 billion per year for every 100,000 people we prevent from being incarcerated and an additional $440 million in probation supervision cost. 

Allow felons to vote after finishing their sentences. Once a person has completed their prison sentence, their debt to society at least, in theory, is supposed to be paid. An estimated 6.1 million people in the United States (2.5% of the nation's voting age population, excluding DC) could not vote due to a felony conviction; 7.44% of African Americans in the United States could not vote due to a felony conviction in 2016.

Some of the funds saved by incarcerating fewer people could go towards reparations programs. It's ultimately more beneficial for society to pay for trade school or college than prison.

Housing

The federal government encouraged racial housing discrimination by redlining areas containing African-Americans and refusing to guarantee loans in those redlined zones. This lack of access to capital affected the ability of black people to buy, rent or maintain their homes. Redlining triggered white flight, caused neighborhoods to declined, discouraged business and investment in entire communities. Zero or low-interest loans should be made available as part of reparations to purchase homes.

Story of Contract Buyers

Following World War II, Chicago’s South Side had become increasingly overcrowded as African Americans moved from the South in the second wave of the Great Migration. Unable to attain decent and sanitary housing in white neighborhoods because of racially restrictive real estate covenants and mortgage redlining by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), African Americans were confined to the South Side ghetto.

In the 1950s-60s, real estate speculators exploited white homeowners’ fears on the West Side of plummeting real estate values because of neighborhoods that had ethnic change. Realtors went door-to-door to persuade white homeowners to sell because blacks were moving into the neighborhood. In neighborhoods they wished to exploit, “panic-peddling” speculators hired black men to drive beat-up cars with the music blaring and paid black women to push their babies in strollers. Speculators made enormous profits by convincing whites to sell their homes at well-below market value and then reselling to blacks at much higher than market value. Black homebuyers were subject to a “race tax,” as a property would typically be bought from a white homeowner for $10,000 and resold a week later to a black family for $25,000. This contributed to the neighborhood’s population changing from 87% white in 1950 to 91% black in 1960. Similar scenarios occurred in other cities across the county. The video below explains how victims in Chicago organized and fought back.

Direct Payments

Black people have been targets of predatory lending and their wealth stripped away because many were forced to pay higher interest rates even with good credit. Even the bankruptcy process became predatory for African-Americas. Direct payments could be made to eliminate or reduce debt.

Many African-Americans have prospered despite systemic racism and racialized barriers placed in their way. Maybe they had to be twice as good to get half as much as their white contemporaries. Regardless, they and their ancestor were wronged. The difference is that some successful black people and their children may have already obtained degrees, houses and the other trappings of success. Direct payments to pay off student loans,  mortgage or other debt may be a more practical solution. However, this sort of direct payment might disqualify them from participating in other reparation programs. 

Slavery Was A Long Time Ago

Many white people, live on or possess land passed down from generations ago, celebrate the 4th of July, re-enact Civil War battles, scream about monuments and confederate flags being taken down, but tell us to forget slavery because no one alive today was a slave or slave-owner.

African-Americans have been free in this country for less time than they were enslaved. Do the math: Blacks were enslaved nearly 250 years but have been free for 152 years, which means that most Americans are only two to three generations away from slavery. This is not that long ago.

"It's foolish to let your oppressor tell you that you should forget about the oppression that they inflicted upon you".

Black Divisions

When my uncle, Dick Gregory, walked away from millions of dollars in bookings, to actively participate in the civil rights movement, there were family members who had good jobs that didn't understand what the fuss was all about. 

Blacks among W.E.B. Dubose's so-called "talented tenth" who are among the best educated and best paid in the African-American community may not believe reparations are necessary, because they themselves are doing well. However, the irony is that even the "talented tenth" would be in better shape if the barriers of racism hadn't prevented even greater success than achieved.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson realized that the more educated black people became, the more they became indoctrinated into the thinking and ways of the white oppressor. "The same educational process which inspires and stimulates the oppressor with the thought that he is everything and has accomplished everything worth while, depresses and crushes at the same time the spark of genius in the Negro by making him feel that his race does not amount to much and never will measure up to the standards of other peoples. The Negro thus educated is a hopeless liability of the race." The "Black Card" video below, featuring Candace Owens, demonstrates Dr. Woodson's premise.

In the above video, Ms. Owens acknowledges her grandfather, Robert Owens, endured Jim Crow, the KKK, was forced to work at the age of five on a tobacco plantation, cleaned homes and office buildings for a living eventually owning his own cleaning company.  Like many African-American, Robert Owens overcame extreme oppressive conditions, imagine how his life might have been better had he not experienced serious racism including the KKK shooting up his family's home as a child.

Black median household income of $40,232 is about two thirds that of other households. The median wealth of white household is $134,230 vs $11,030 for black households. These figures are direct results of racial oppression and the capacity to create and pass along generational wealth.

Racism created a number of divisions within the Black community, most notably light vs dark skinned, straight hair vs kinky hair, and house vs field slave. The Willie Lynch Letter best illustrates this phenomenon.

Meritorious manumission was a method of freeing or rewarding slaves for "good deeds" such as saving the life of a white person, creating an invention a slave master could profit from, or “snitching” on a slave planning to run away or organize a revolt. Some black people are still willing to sell out their community for financial gain. 

Conclusion

Pick any major indicator, education, housing, employment, credit, business ownership, skilled trade, technology, science, law, medicine or any other and blacks woefully lag behind whites. These situations did not randomly occur, they were designed and enforced through government legislation and policy

FDR once said, "In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." After World War 2, the Marshall Plan rebuilt parts of Europe including Germany, the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP) revived Japan's economy, and the U.S. helped create Isreal, which became the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. As a country, we know how to stabilize and build economies. So one can assume that the present state of Black America was planned; simply by virtue that no serious efforts were made to stabilize let alone rebuilt economies within the black community. While the U.S. was providing former enemies with economic aid, black veterans who fought those enemies were denied G.I. and other benefits.

Although a vast debt is owed, I don't really expect any meaningful reparations to be paid. The descendants of slave owners and others who benefited economically have no incentive to pay.

Power is not given, it must be taken. How can you expect powerful people to give you the education, training, and resources to take their power away from them? 

African descendants of slaves have no means to force the payment of the debt. Usually, a creditor can take a debtor to court, obtain a judgment which is backed by the force of law. Even if reparations were provided, the voluntary payments would be a tiny fraction of the debt owed and couldn't cause any meaningful change. 

Slavery existed and racism exists because it is profitable! Being a slum lord is profitable, marketing sub-prime and payday loans is profitable, hiring desperate workers at low wages is profitable and having a population of 45 million black consumers who do not manufacture anything is profitable.

Even if reparations were paid, how long would it take for that money to end right back into the hands of white businesses? We don't manufacture building supplies, houses, furniture, appliances, electronics or even clothes. Everything we need to survive including food, water, electricity, gas, and other basics are supplied by others.

Self Reparations

Black churches, Kingdom Halls, Mosques, organizations, and businesses should create a commission and find workable solutions to at least some of the damage caused by centuries of racial oppression. Malcolm X in his "Ballot or the Bullet" speech recommended forgetting religious differences to concentrate on fighting a common enemy and working towards Black Nationalism to control the politics and economy in our own community.

The commission would need to partner to build distribution networks for black businesses and merchandise. There are probably congregation members who provide services or own businesses that their fellow members know nothing about. Imagine if black churches used some of their space to sell products such as soft drinks, baked goods, and other black manufactured goods. 

Black Convention Venue

My son, who is a youth minister at his church, for years has attended church conventions in various cities where tens of millions of dollars are spent by attendees. For example, in 2010, the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education's 55,000 attendees spent an estimated $76 million in Detroit. Right here in St. Louis where I live, between 2010 and 2016, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) through it's Holy Convocation injected more than $125 million into the St. Louis economy. Imagine if that money was spent within the black community instead of white-owned hotels, restaurants, and venues.

Black churches, professional organizations, and non-profit organizations could contribute funds for a non-profit corporation to create venues to accommodate member churches and organizations' large meetings and conventions. Black churches alone take in an estimated $12-13 billion per year. This organization could reach out to the African Union and others in the African Diaspora to build alliances, investors and partners.

If the organizational structure ends up being a standard corporation, shares can be made available to congregation and organization members, with members encouraged to support and recommend the venues for vacations and other travel. Discounts should be offered to members of participating organizations.

The average hotel with 115 room costs $22 million to build. The average daily rate (ADR) of hotels in the United States was 128.94 U.S. dollars as of February 2019. In 2018, the hotel occupancy rate was at 66.2 percent. Based on the ADR and occupancy rate, the average 115 room hotel earns $3.58 million in revenue per year, with gross operating profits of 38 percent, not factoring in religious or non-profit tax exemptions.  

To start, the most popular convention destinations should be researched and a single start city selected, preferably one with a large black population to help sustain the venues during the initial and growth stages. Land in predominantly black neighborhoods should be selected for development. Member organizations would need to commit to holding conventions and meetings in the start city for a number of years. A black transportation system, similar to Uber, could be organized with a network of black restaurants, entertainment, retailers and other places of interests as target destinations. After the initial start city becomes successful, a secondary city could be selected and the process repeated until about five or six of the most popular destination cities have been developed. African American travelers contributed about $63 billion to the U.S. travel and tourism economy in 2018. Imagine capturing just ten percent of that market.

This suggestion needs to be fine-tuned, would require sacrifice and might require member organizations to forgo conventions for a period of time. However, the long term benefits to the organizations and the black community would be monumental. 

Even if a national coalition of organizations is not currently feasible, certainly local coalitions could be built to find workable local solutions for community issues. The primary issues in our communities are economic. Until workable solutions are presented to help people, especially our youth get out of poverty, desperate people will continue to find violent solutions to their problems and no catchphrase or slogan will stop them.

I realized some time ago that black people have the greatest need for timely access to quality information, however, those with the information, usually will not share it with others. I've actually seen situations where one non-profit organization would not share with needy clients helpful information about other non-profit organizations. It is my sincere hope that my ideas will spark someone into action to help others.

Although I'm not an attorney, I created this site to distribute free legal information to help those with little or no money to hire an attorney. Multiple systems are rigged against all of us. "United we stand, divided we fall"; let us stand so we can help those who have fallen.