I came to that conclusion perhaps 20 years ago, and I've often considered since how that principle could be formalized to be used to make reparation to African-Americans for the stolen wealth created by the labor of slaves. I've often thought that the solution would lie with the modern successor entities to the enterprises built upon the backs of slaves in industries like tobacco, cotton, sugar and rail.
It appears some in the NAACP are moving toward adopting this approach.
rightwing blogosphere all aflutter today (Google NAACP business reparations.)
The NAACP will target private companies as part of its economic agenda, seeking reparations from corporations with historical ties to slavery and boycotting companies that refuse to participate in its annual business diversity report card.
"Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table," Dennis C. Hayes, interim president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said yesterday at the group's 96th annual convention here.
"Many of the problems we have now including poverty, disparities in health care and incarcerations can be directly tied to slavery."
The group's strategy will include a lobbying effort to encourage cities to enact laws requiring businesses to complete an extensive slavery study and submit it to the city before they can get a city contract.
A few major cities have adopted regulations requiring corporations disclose historic ties to slavery:
[Two] banks trying to do business with Chicago have recently apologized for their role in slavery and promised to make amends by offering scholarships to blacks and money for other education projects that benefit blacks.
J.P. Morgan Chase Bank recently completed an examination of its history and found that two financial institutions it absorbed years ago -- Citizens Bank and Canal Bank in Louisiana -- had owned more than 1,250 black people until the Civil War, procured as collateral on defaulted loans.
The company apologized and officials said it will start a $5 million scholarship program for children in Louisiana.
Wachovia Corp. was accused by a Chicago alderman of lying last month when it submitted its statement in January stating it had no knowledge of any involvement with slavery. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company later apologized and indicated that it would create an education fund or contribute money toward black history education.
Its interesting to see these first steps in this direction. The point of conflict on the issue of reparations has been the competing demands of restitution for that which was taken on the one hand, while the principle of individual responsibility holds that those who have done no wrong should not be penalized. This is why in my ruminations on this idea over the years have led me to the conclusion that the form that restitution should take should be in the form of capital stock in the successor corporations to the exploiters of the slavery era. After all, what is capital but the concretized expression of past labor? Thus I feel that reparations activists would find the ends of justice served better through aiming for acquisition of capital interests than merely shaking a few millions loose from current cash-flow.
Cross-posted from Liberal Street Fighter