Ambassador Joseph, board member, reflects on Nelson Mandela

Posted December 13th, 2013 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , ,

Ambassador Joseph, Mary Braxton Joseph, and Nelson MandelaAmbassador James A. Joseph is a member of the Tracing Center’s board of directors who first met Nelson Mandela when they shared a dais in Washington, D.C. during Mandela’s first visit to the United States in 1990, and who served as U.S. ambassador to South Africa when Nelson Mandela was president.

Ambassador Joseph, who was holding a sign reading “Free Mandela” outside of the South African Parliament in Cape Town when President de Klerk announced that Mandela would be freed, recalls beginning his tour as U.S. ambassador with this story:

In 1996, I was back in South Africa to present my credentials to President Mandela as the U.S. Ambassador. “I have come to exchange my ‘free Mandela’ sign for my credentials as the United States Ambassador,” I said. He loved it.

In this essay for the Huffington Post’s “Black Voices,” Ambassador Joseph seeks, like so many others, to “take full measure of the man.” He settles on three attributes for which he believes Nelson Mandela ought to be best remembered: as an exemplar of the power of the human spirit to solve problems without resorting to violence; as a model of effective leadership, being both pragmatic and grounded in a principle higher than power; and as a healer who embraced the values of community and pluralism, showing that there is strength in diversity and unity.

“Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism”

Posted April 1st, 2013 by
Category: Living consequences, Repair and reparations Tags: ,

Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About RacismThis post is about Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism (2013), a new book we haven’t read yet at the Tracing Center, but which we learned about this weekend from author Sharon Morgan and which we’re eager to get our hands on.

(Sharon, for those who don’t know, is co-author, along with Tom DeWolf, of Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade.)

Combined Destinies, edited by Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline Haskell, is an anthology exploring the impact of racism on the lives of white people. The authors, both psychotherapists with experience facilitating dialogue on race, seek to begin a conversation about the impact on white people of the racist ideology created by their ancestors, in order to advance anti-oppression work and to contribute to individual and societal healing.

The book’s chapters focus on issues such as guilt, shame, and silence in the lives of white Americans, and are written for a wide audience, including lay people as well as counselors and mental health professionals. The chapters include the words of white people telling their own stories, often for the very first time.

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Reparations Awareness Day

Posted February 25th, 2013 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , ,

Ray Winbush, Should America Pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations (2003)Today is Reparations Awareness Day, a day that has been designated for more than a decade to promote reparations for slavery in the United States.

What do you think? Should reparations be offered for the nation’s history of slavery and racial discrimination? Why or why not?


February 25 was originally designated as Reparations Awareness Day by N’COBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, following a series of demonstrations organized by the group in the early 1990s. The occasion has since been formally recognized by a variety of organizations, including the New York City Council, churches, and institutions of higher education.

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Reparations for the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

Posted January 7th, 2013 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , , ,

Tulsa Race Riot of 1921Tulsa Race Riot of 1921Last week, we reported that Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) had re-introduced before Congress his bill, H.R. 40, to establish a commission to study reparations for slavery and racial discrimination.

Today we write to say that Rep. Conyers has also re-introduced legislation to provide reparations for the victims of the Tulsa Race Riot and their descendants.

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Tim Wise on accountability in racial justice

Posted December 29th, 2011 by
Category: Repair and reparations

Tim Wise has a very thoughtful statement on his web site proposing principles for being accountable to others while working on issues of race and racial justice. It’s obviously the product of considerable reflection over time, as well as engagement with many other people, and it’s well worth reading by anyone working in this field—or who simply wants to make personal progress in this area.

A handful of key passages, and a link to Tim’s full statement on his web site, are below.

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Goodwin Liu re-nominated to 9th Circuit

Posted September 14th, 2010 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s interim managing director and director of research. This entry is cross-posted from James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, and the opinions expressed are his own.

The White House announced late yesterday that President Obama has re-nominated Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Professor Liu’s nomination became controversial when it was discovered that he had addressed the subject of reparations for slavery on a panel following a special screening of our documentary, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Liu’s scholarship has also drawn considerable attention for its intellectual heft and for what conservative senators have declared to be a left-leaning philosophical approach to the law.

Professor Liu was originally nominated to the appellate judgeship in February, and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 12-7 vote. His nomination expired, however, when the Senate recessed in August without having held a full vote.

Professor Liu’s nomination, along with several others who were re-nominated yesterday, must now pass the Senate Judiciary Committee again. A committee meeting has been scheduled for Thursday at which these nominations will be discussed.

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