Being Woke:
Parliament should examine reparations, says campaigners

By Global Afrikan Congress (UK) | Tue 21 November 2017

Abu Akil, Misie Goode and MP Marsha De Cordova in the House of Commons

The UK chapter of a global reparations movement pledged to continue to lobby MPs in Parliament to achieve justice for enslavement and racism.

A meeting of the Global Afrikan Congressuk agreed to lobby MPs next summer and push for an all-party Parliamentary committee on reparations.

Around 30 people took part in their second annual ‘Reparations Lobby’ on 15 November. They met with MPs in the House of Commons to argue for a series of anti-racist proposals including reparations.

Secretary of GACuk, Glenroy watson told the post-lobby rally: "We want another lobby in the House of Commons in June. We need to organise so that we can have an all-party committee on reparations and so that we can set their agenda. We should ask the Afrikan MPs to lead on this."

The all-party committee proposal came from Marsha De Cordova, Labour MP in Battersea, when she met GACuk members and supporters during the lobby. A committee is an informal means for MPs to investigate a topic and seek to influence government policy.

She was one of the mainly Labour MPs who spoke to GACuk. They included: Eltham's Clive Efford, and Steve Reed in Croydon North. Campaigners also met the assistants of Harriet Harman from Peckham, and Liberal Democrat MP in Oxford West and Abingdon, Layla Moran. Last June, the GACuk also met Scottish National Party, and Conservative MP.

Misie Goode, from Wandsworth, is not a GACuk member but participated in a Parliamentary lobby for the first time. She spoke to her MP, Marsha De Cordova. She said: "She was welcoming and understanding and we spoke to her for about 10 minutes. She said it was important for us to continue to lobby. She took down my contact details and said she would get in touch with me."

MP Steve Reed wants GACuk not to back legal cases on reparations that emphasises money owed to Afrikan black people. He told GACuk members from his constituency: "It's unlikely that you will get support from the electorate for a cash compensation for the horrors of slavery.”

He wants government support for Afrikan countries to develop economic growth and to deal with disadvantage caused by racism in the UK. In September, he visited Jamaica to explore how the drinks industry can help make use of sugar cane abandoned in the fields due to a lack of investment.

MP Clive Efford told GACuk co-chair, Abu Akil, that institutional discrimination affected Afrikan people, as well as working-class white people.

Global African Congressuk

Fear of challenging

Speaker at the rally, Christopher Jones, co-chair of the International Decade for People of African Descent Coalition UK, stressed that history is relevant today. He said: “There is the idea that things have evolved but that could lead to complacency and losing sight of the injustices we must challenge.”

GACuk leaders stressed how important it was for the Afrikan community to make demands on decision makers in Parliament.

Abu Akil said: "We have a fear of challenging the status quo. Some will say that they don't want to deal with the House of Commons because it's Babylon. But we live in Babylon. We have to make sense of the fear that we have.”

Glenroy Watson said: "Decisions in the House of Commons led to enslavement and many other wrongs. Some people say they want nothing to do with it. But I'm in the trade union movement and my position is that we confront the decision makers."

The Reparations Lobby proposals included that the UK government should:

• commit to some form of reparations for Afrikan enslavement and colonialism,
• recognise 1st August as Emancipation Day and a public holiday,
• implement the United Nation's 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action, (
• decriminalise Afrikan freedom fighters, and
• support the United Nations’ international decade for Afrikans 2015- 2024.

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The Global Afrikan Congress was established in 2002 in Barbados after the United Nations World Conference Against Racism declared enslavement and colonialism to be crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. GAC has regional global representation and is working to build chapters at the grass roots level. ‘Family Gatherings’ are held every 2 years, after the first at the UN World Conference against Racism (WCAR), where Afrikan and Afrikan descendants united to form ‘an effective strike force’ to mobilize the world against the US and British opposition to our declaration. GAC is governed internationally, between Biennial family gatherings, by its International Working Committee (IWC) comprising members elected from across the globe every two years. The UK chapter is GACuk. The UK chapter is GACuk. It has a fast growing membership with a battle hardened and experienced officer structure that was led by one of former our Co-chairs, the late Honorable Elderman Gee Bernard, former Croydon councillor. It is currently led by Co Chairs Abu Akil and Judy Richard and Secretary, Glenroy Watson, President of the largest region of the railway union, the RMT.

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