June 13, 2005 – Many people when they talk about reparations for slavery are stuck in the cliche. "It happened a long time ago. I was not there. No one else here was there. Why talk about it?"
Crucian Shelley Moorhead, president of the African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance, has been leading a campaign for over a year to put that cliche to rest and bring deeper thought to the matter.
One can't easily judge how successful he has been. The trip where a delegation of reparation advocates went to Denmark garnered a lot of publicity, but when looking at those participating, it would be hard to pick out someone who was not on Moorhead's side of the debate before. (See "Reparation Group Prepares to Leave for Denmark").
But Moorhead may not be worried about that, he is just moving forward.
Last Friday Moorhead received an e-mail from Sergei Cherniavsky, Secretary, UN Special Committee on Decolonization, inviting Moorhead to speak 10 minutes before the committee on Thursday and give his viewpoint.
In a press release announcing his acceptance, Moorhead said this is an opportunity to "present to the world community a new paradigm for international reconciliation and repair."
He said he will focus on the accomplishments of the U.S. Virgin Islands delegation to Denmark in April and the recently established Joint Virgin Islands/Denmark Task on Reparations.
The committee he will be addressing is responsible for promoting social, economic, political and educational progress in non-self-governing territories. The committee also assists in developing appropriate forms of self-government while taking into account the political aspirations, stages of development, and advancement of these territories.
The reparations movement began to gain momentum in the Virgin Islands after a November 2004 meeting. (See "V.I. Group Talks About Possible Slave Reparations"). The meeting had been organized by Moorhead at the Cormorant Restaurant, and it concluded with the promise of attendees and interested parties planning regular meetings.
Moorhead's press release stated, "The territory's resolve to define an existence beyond the post-transfer yet still colonial environment, today is evident in various local initiatives. The Committee for St. Croix Self Government has succeeded in bringing attention to the many disparities the colonial constructs have left in place. Meanwhile, in effort to establish an identity separate and apart from the limitations imposed by the territory's political status, the Legislature appears again to be steadily approaching yet another constitutional convention."
A resolution, sponsored by Sens. Celestino A. White Sr. and Usie Richards, condemning the institution of slavery and allowing the territory to seek reparations from Denmark, was passed by the V.I. Senate on May 4. (See "Resolution Supports Danish Reparations".)
Moorhead's release concluded, "Bolstered with the strength of a recent legislative resolution, ACRRA and the Virgin Islands Reparations Movement are now introducing to the world new formulas for international healing and restoration."
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