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Reparations Activists Looking for Education, Restoration and Reconciliation

Aug. 29, 2008 — Representatives of the African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA) aren't camped out at Government House begging for money, Shelly Moorhead says — they are there on principle.
As Moorhead spoke to the media Friday on the walkway in front of Government House, trucks drove by blasting air horns in support, while other people yelled "get a job." Moorhead discussed why ACRRA members are there. He also discussed a letter from Gov. John deJongh Jr. he received Wednesday.
The group has never demanded money, said Moorhead, the president and founder of ACRRA, speaking slowly and softly as if to conserve energy. He has been fasting since Aug. 12.
"There is no price tag on reparations," Moorhead said. "We want acknowledgment to heal the wounds and consequences of the offender and offended people held in slavery."
Reparations are about education, restoration and reconciliation, Moorhead said. In his outline of reparations there is not one mention of payment of money to any individuals or organization, he said.
In October 2007 the V.I. government appropriated $35,000 for the organization. In the letter dated Aug. 26, deJongh says the appropriation has not and cannot be funded unless and until there are funds available. (See "Governor Asks for End to Reparations Protest.")
Moorhead gave media representatives a letter dated Aug. 22 that he wrote to Debra Gottlieb, director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the letter he withdrew ACRRA's Nov. 6, 2007, request for the release of funds in the amount of $35,000.
"We have withdrawn the request after hearing the cries of the administration about the current economic crisis," Moorhead said.
He brought up a statement in deJongh's letter that reads, "I believe that it would be impossible to place a monetary value and determine proper compensation for the past of suffering, lost opportunity and destruction to the moral and social fabric of enslaved Africans and their descendants caused by slavery."
The governor "misunderstands the concept of reparation," Moorhead said. "This statement indicates the governor hasn't been following the issue of reparation."
On this 160th anniversary of emancipation, Denmark is looking to close a dark chapter in its history, Moorhead said.
"They are closing this chapter with no consultation," he said. "This is arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity to the Virgin Islands."
Several Caribbean nations have issued policies and commissions to address the issue of repair, Moorhead said. When he looks at the United States, the candidacy of Barack Obama and dialogues on race, Moorhead said, he sees a connection being made to the horrific and brutal history of slavery.
In deJongh's letter, he strongly urged ACRRA to broaden its fund raising through outreach.
The organization has no problem raising funds through corporate sponsors and members of ACRRA, Moorhead said. A student at St. Croix Educational Complex, Marissa Ruiz, is doing a report on ACRRA's reparations movement, and from that ACRRA got the idea to have an essay contest with $500 given to the best essay writer, he said.
Moorhead pledged to remain at Government House until the primary issues of reparations are on the table for the governor to address during his proposed trip to Denmark in November. In the meantime he plans to schedule a series of meetings with reparations advocates and get community dialogues going.
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Aug. 29, 2008 -- Representatives of the African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA) aren't camped out at Government House begging for money, Shelly Moorhead says -- they are there on principle.
As Moorhead spoke to the media Friday on the walkway in front of Government House, trucks drove by blasting air horns in support, while other people yelled "get a job." Moorhead discussed why ACRRA members are there. He also discussed a letter from Gov. John deJongh Jr. he received Wednesday.
The group has never demanded money, said Moorhead, the president and founder of ACRRA, speaking slowly and softly as if to conserve energy. He has been fasting since Aug. 12.
"There is no price tag on reparations," Moorhead said. "We want acknowledgment to heal the wounds and consequences of the offender and offended people held in slavery."
Reparations are about education, restoration and reconciliation, Moorhead said. In his outline of reparations there is not one mention of payment of money to any individuals or organization, he said.
In October 2007 the V.I. government appropriated $35,000 for the organization. In the letter dated Aug. 26, deJongh says the appropriation has not and cannot be funded unless and until there are funds available. (See "Governor Asks for End to Reparations Protest.")
Moorhead gave media representatives a letter dated Aug. 22 that he wrote to Debra Gottlieb, director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the letter he withdrew ACRRA's Nov. 6, 2007, request for the release of funds in the amount of $35,000.
"We have withdrawn the request after hearing the cries of the administration about the current economic crisis," Moorhead said.
He brought up a statement in deJongh's letter that reads, "I believe that it would be impossible to place a monetary value and determine proper compensation for the past of suffering, lost opportunity and destruction to the moral and social fabric of enslaved Africans and their descendants caused by slavery."
The governor "misunderstands the concept of reparation," Moorhead said. "This statement indicates the governor hasn't been following the issue of reparation."
On this 160th anniversary of emancipation, Denmark is looking to close a dark chapter in its history, Moorhead said.
"They are closing this chapter with no consultation," he said. "This is arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity to the Virgin Islands."
Several Caribbean nations have issued policies and commissions to address the issue of repair, Moorhead said. When he looks at the United States, the candidacy of Barack Obama and dialogues on race, Moorhead said, he sees a connection being made to the horrific and brutal history of slavery.
In deJongh's letter, he strongly urged ACRRA to broaden its fund raising through outreach.
The organization has no problem raising funds through corporate sponsors and members of ACRRA, Moorhead said. A student at St. Croix Educational Complex, Marissa Ruiz, is doing a report on ACRRA's reparations movement, and from that ACRRA got the idea to have an essay contest with $500 given to the best essay writer, he said.
Moorhead pledged to remain at Government House until the primary issues of reparations are on the table for the governor to address during his proposed trip to Denmark in November. In the meantime he plans to schedule a series of meetings with reparations advocates and get community dialogues going.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.