I was assisted in writing this post by a wonderful bottle of Chateau Chante Alouette – Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2018. A serious red Bordeaux. I caught this one by chance. This lady usually sells for $60.00. I think the store inadvertently mispriced it (no sale was in progress – and it wasn’t on clearance). It was the only one on the shelf. So I quickly grabbed it – paid the $24.99 on the price tag and got out the store. A medium but complex body. Strong tannins, plums, ripe cherries, wood. A sweet end game of cinnamon and vanilla. Smooth – clean finish.
“No Self stands alone. Behind it stretches an immense chain of physical and – as a special class within the whole – mental events, to which it belongs as a reacting member and which it carries on. Through the condition at any moment of its somatic, especially its cerebral system, and through education, and tradition, by word, by writing, by monument, by manners, by a way of life, by a newly shaped environment… by so much that a thousand words would not exhaust it, by all that, I say, the Self is not so much linked with what happened to its ancestors, it is not so much the product, and merely the product, of all that, but rather, in the strictest sense of the word, the SAME THING as all that:
The strict, direct continuation of it, just as the Self aged fifty is the continuation of the Self aged forty.”
“When we connect with our ancestors and put their wisdom into action, we are evolving our collective consciousness. We are transporting the ancient truths of our collective past and birthing them into our future. What we create out of those truths extends the wisdom of all those who have gone before us, and it provides a guide for all those who will follow.”
Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset
Before becoming an active participant in the reparations movement – I never, ever heard of Dr. Robert L. Brock. If he is still alive, as of this writing, he would be 98 years old (I could find no recent information about him on the net). I first heard his name uttered disparagingly at an N’COBRA gathering by (the now deceased) Dr. Conrad Worrill. I processed what I heard the same way I process disparaging language regarding a Black person from white people. If he/she is doing and/or saying something they don’t like – that Black person must be doing something good. Well – I decided to find out more about this guy.
So here we are.
Dr. Robert L. Brock – even though most of us have never heard of him, is quite consequential in the reparations movement. Based in Los Angeles – he regards reparations as something that is long overdue. He first became interested in reparations while attending Southwestern University School of Law during the early 1950’s. He was propelled to action after reading President Andrew Johnson’s veto of post-Civil War legislation that would have given American Freedmen 40 acres and a mule. In 1956 he and others founded the “Self-Determination Committee.” For decades he spoke on this issue in churches, community centers, and colleges. An unrelenting and sharp activist. Within the old-school reparations movement he was/is regarded as a kind of elder statesman.
He has done some activist work with the late Queen Mother Audley Moore of Los Angeles and the late Ray Jenkins (aka “Reparations Ray”) of Detroit. Dr. Brock worked with the late attorney Johnnie L. Cochran on a slavery reparations lawsuit against the United States. He also worked with Randall Robinson – author of “The Debt.” Dr. Brock filed a reparations class action suit in 1956 that went to the Supreme Court. Dr. Brock states, “The wealth of America is our legal property. But we must make our legal claims to get money.” Dr. Brock projected years ago that the price for Native Black American reparations would be quite huge, somewhere in the trillions, by his estimate. But the money, he said, can and must be found.
He felt that it was too soon to worry about the cost.
Before being limited by health problems – Dr. Brock was holding meetings across the country in support of the late Congressman John Conyers’ HR40 Bill. For almost two decades, Dr. Brock spoke at forums with Conyers endorsing the idea of a study of reparations for American Freedmen. Over time, Dr. Brock felt that Congressman Conyers was perpetrating a 25-year political charade when he asserted that he was submitting reparations legislation every year, but he “couldn’t get it out of committee.” Even though the Bill was originally introduced in 1989 and Congressman Conyers also became the House Judiciary Committee chair in 1989. Dr. Brock saw this as a yearly political “ritual” with no practical end. Amazingly, before he died, Conyers said that reparations are “too controversial to pursue at this time.” (Is that so?) Conversely – Dr. Brock forcefully retorted: “The time is ripe to move the reparations movement to the top of the American agenda.”
So – HR40 was created in bad faith? For Show? WOW…
My understanding as far as the disdain the late Dr. Conrad Worrill had for Dr. Brock was that he broke with any associations with N’COBRA because of a difference in reparations distribution philosophy. Dr. Brock was a hard-core-ist regarding distributing cash payments to individuals. N’COBRA uncompromisingly wanted control of all reparations policy, resources, and distributions through a “reparations trust authority.” Dr. Brock couldn’t accept the N’COBRA position. He eventually cut them off. And there has been bad blood between them ever since.
The undated memo below was written between 1963 – 1965.
This work was never under copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former owner.
Here It Is:
REPARATIONS AS DEFINED BY ATTORNEY DR. ROBERT L. BROCK
From the Desk of Attorney Dr. Robert L. Brock on Reparations:
Reparations is the value in payment for slave labor that Black People never received for 400 years of slave labor that should have accrued to the present U.S. Slaves Descendants as their inheritance. Reparations is also the “40 acres and a mule” that Black People of [American] slave and slave descent never received. Reparations is Money (gold), Goods and Services due Slave Descendants. Reparations is an Economic Emancipation that is long overdue Black People. The Indians received Reparations from the United States and the Jews received Reparations from Germany and presently the United States is paying damages to the Japanese (see note below), not Reparations. Reparations is payment made outside of the law. The Japanese are citizens and their legal Constitutional rights were violated.
Germany paid Reparations as a war demand to the Allied Powers. This is the kind of Reparations should be paid to U.S. Slaves and Slaves’ Descendants since U.S. Negroes do not come under U.S. Constitutional provisions but come under a DEMAND FOR REPARATION for Enslavement in an Act of War (undeclared) until a treaty or Article 73 a,b,c,d,e of The Charter of the United Nations as Non‐Self‐Governing People. The Japanese were interned in concentration camps with armed guards for 5 years (under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066), whereas, the Black American slaves and their descendants are in slavery and captivity for 400 years without any pay for labor and the fruits of their labor.
It is the slave labor of Negroes, and not the free labor of Whites and it is the uncompensated slave labor plundered by White People for more than 300 years that have made the United States the richest nation in the world, and we Black People are now in the process of demanding the value of our ancestors and antecedents before them’s [sic] plundered labor back and its value in money as our inheritance which is in the Trillions of dollars, money, goods, services and land.
Wars are fought for the taking of resources such as land, oil, gold, raw materials, violation of duty or rights, etc., but the war against Africans by the White Europeans was a war for the capture of the body and its use ONLY, and through the slave and triangular slave “trade” was as acts of enslavement continued for 300 years, and as long as the Africans (now called negro, black, American, colored, etc.) are in captivity, the war of enslavement continues, even to the present date hereof.
By warrant, authority and declaration in the year 1562, of Queen Elizabeth, a White English woman, war and African (negro) enslavement as acts of war began, an undeclared war without provocation or aggression by the Africans when Sir John Hawkins, who was the first Englishman, invaded the Continent of Africa and committed acts of war against African persons‐women‐men‐children after which, through plunder and pillage, the physical bodies of Africans were captured as enslavement as acts of war, as distinguished from the bodies of soldiers are captured as acts of war but not as acts of enslavement as war.
Reconstruction historians have generally agreed that one of the great tragedies of emancipation and Reconstruction was the failure of the United States and the Congress to provide economic security for the former chattel slaves principally by failing to provide them, over 4 million of them, with land. This was a deliberate act to deny Negro slaves any land for the purpose of forcing them to stay on the same plantation, and this fact is proven when one sees that cotton production reached the same level as when the Negroes were chattels. To this add Jim Crow, the Black Codes, lynching, etc.
Negro slave laborers (not the Industrial Revolution) provided the muscle, labor and scientific innovations without pay for three centuries, clearing the wilderness in the United States and making the land productive (the Whites and Indians did not do it). Who got the three hundred years of slave labor, money, goods, profits from scientific inventions, and services that Black People created from slave labor?
It is the Government of the United States and individual White men, White women and White children and others of the free structure and their heirs following in interest in a consecutive, successive succession of [the possession of] the Negro slaves’ labor and value to the present.
END OF MEMO
WOW —– some of our elders were killers. Don’t you agree Family? The only solid ought that I personally have with Dr. Brock’s overall reparations philosophy is his taste for repatriation to Africa. Not focused on that. At the same time – even though Dr. Brock seems to be a Pan African leaning repatriationist, he speaks in specificity regarding the historic injuries and potential compensations to American Freedmen. I also like his vociferously uncompromising position on cash payments.
Dr. Brock said to a Los Angeles Times reporter in 1990: “This is my life.” Dr. Brock was a former seaman in the merchant marine who never married, has no children, and he sustained(s) himself through lecture honorariums and donations to him and his organization. Dr. Brock contends that groups like the NAACP won’t deal with the issue of reparations because they are afraid of offending politically moderate Blacks and supporters in the white community. Dr. Brock remarked: “I don’t know if I’ll live to see reparations for Black people… but I’ve been laying the foundation. Sooner or later we are going to get what this country owes us.”
We must learn more about our 20th Century Reparationist elders.
A Note On Japanese Reparations: Most of us at this writing are only familiar with reparations paid to formerly interned Japanese Americans and their descendants via the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. What he is referring to is the Japanese-American Claims Act of 1948. This allowed Japanese Americans to apply for compensation for property losses. By the time the Act was passed, the Internal Revenue Service had destroyed most of the internees 1939 – 1942 tax records. It was difficult for claimants to establish that their claims were valid. Under the Act – Japanese American families filed 26,568 claims totaling $148 million in requests. Only $37 million was approved and disbursed.
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