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 In modern history, which for black people begins in 1441, we lost 100 million lives through violence inflicted

by the slave trade. Thousands more were taken from their homes to enslavement in the western hemisphere . . .

without payment for that work



Books by Clarence J. Munford

Production relations, class and Black liberation: A Marxist perspective in Afro-American studies (1978)


The Black Ordeal of Slavery and Slave Trading in the French West Indies 1625-1715 (1991)


Race and Reparations: A Black Perspective for the 21st Century   (1996)


Race and Civilization: The Rebirth of Black Centrality (2003) 

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N'COBRA: A 21st Century Dream

Clarence J. Munford Speaks at Metro Hall


Prof. Clarence Munford, History, to discuss issues vital to African-Americans today. Munford, a faculty member at Guelph for 33 years, is the author of numerous publications, including a three-volume history of black enslavement in the French West Indies and the 1996 book Race and Reparations: A Black Perspective for the 21st Century. A companion book to Race and Reparations is scheduled for publication in 2000. In 1995, Munford was honoured when U of G students opened the Munford Centre on campus to provide a focal point for anti-racism and race relations resources and a drop-in centre for students.

During the annual celebration of King's January birthday, U of G history professor Clarence Munford spoke at Toronto's Metro Hall and shared his own dream for the 21st century. "It is time to update King's speech and the content of his dream," says Munford.

"Martin Luther King led a vital struggle against petty apartheid North American style -- school segregation, equal access to public facilities, voting rights and access and prompt service in restaurants. But one generation after his assassination, the formal access to public facilities can no longer be the target of black communal effort -- nor should it be. We now have that access, at least in legislation. Today we are not seeking equality. Now we seek parity."

Munford works with a U.S.-based organization called N'COBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, which is trying to provide African-Americans with an economic and social foundation that will protect the anti-discrimination legislation and make it possible for blacks to benefit fully from political participation. N'COBRA is focused on a new "social advantage" movement. "We think we must mobilize blacks to make a commitment to reparations - payment of the inheritance due to us for the labour of our ancestors," he says.

The professor has more than a historian's interest in the institution of slavery. Born and raised in Ohio, Munford traces his mother's ancestors to the plantations of Louisiana and his father's family to enslavement in Alabama. He has lived in Canada since 1966, however, joining U of G after completing an academic trail that began at Cleveland's Western Reserve University, then took him to the University of Leipzig in Germany for a PhD, then to the University of Nigeria as a faculty member.

During his years at Guelph, Munford has maintained close connections to family members in the United States and an active involvement in the ongoing civil rights struggles of blacks in many countries.

On the international scene, Munford is an active participant, with other historians, legal scholars, social scientists and psychologists, in the preparation of legislative recommendations and a legal brief in regards to U.S. Bill HR 40. Introduced by Detroit congressman John Conyers Jr., the bill would acknowledge the fundamental injustice of slavery in the United States and create a commission to examine the resulting economic and racial discrimination against African-Americans and the impact of these forces on those still living in the United States. The commission would also make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies, which N'COBRA economists say should include reparations as high as $10 trillion US.

The following are excerpts from the interview with Munford, in which he talks about the basis of the black reparations movement and his belief that it is time for western civilization to pay the debt owed to African-Americans.

In modern history, which for black people begins in 1441, we lost 100 million lives through violence inflicted by the slave trade. Thousands more were taken from their homes to enslavement in the western hemisphere, where they and succeeding generations worked their entire lives without payment for that work. What would be owed to us, using the true capitalist principle of the right of inheritance?

The value of the accrued wages of Africans enslaved in the United States, plus interest, has been estimated at anywhere from $5 trillion to $10 trillion US. This debt does not count the other billions of dollars that may have been lost to blacks in the last 130 years through segregation and reduced job opportunities due to racial discrimination. Nor does it count the additional debts owed to the descendants of slavery in other countries - the West Indies, for example, where thousands were enslaved.

One example of the impact of racial discrimination lies in the 10-to-one ratio between the home ownership assets of whites and blacks in the United States. The average equity in home real estate is $42,000 for whites and just over $4,000 for blacks. A contributing factor to this discrimination was the U.S. government's post-war policy that offered low-cost mortgages to whites to enable them to move from the inner cities to the suburbs, while those mortgages were denied blacks. Yet black people in the United States helped pay for those government subsidies through their taxes. We helped pay for the better schools built in the suburbs and the better teaching and resources enjoyed by white children.

We feel the only way to acquire entrance to the future and build a social foundation that will enable us to enjoy the political and legal rights we have won is to initiate some form of reparations. It's time for western governments to ante up.

We promote a massive fund for black education that will raise the educational level of black children to that of the white middle class.

Since the Depression, black unemployment has averaged two to 2½ times the unemployment rate among whites. Reparations will help equalize employment opportunities through education and black ownership of meaningful black assets. "Part of the dream is access to credit to encourage black ownership of business ventures. We want 15 to 20 per cent of the black labour force to be able to find a job and build a career in a black-owned business. Currently, less than one per cent of the black labour force in the United States works for black-owned firms.

Supporters of the reparations movement do not expect overnight success - Bill HR 40 has been voted down each year for nearly a decade - but we see this as a crisis that western civilization must address.

Reparations would not be paid by individual white people, but by western governments, which have already set a precedent of using reparations to achieve some atonement for the atrocities of past governments. Some European countries have made reparations to the survivors of the five-year Jewish Holocaust. Both the United States and Canada have given an apology and payments to Japanese citizens who were interned during the Second World War, and both countries have provided compensation to native populations who were robbed of their land and their culture. But African-Americans have a 500-year-old debt that remains unpaid.

The reparations movement is a worldwide movement. There is a reparations office in Nigeria, and the Organization of African Unity has gone on record as supporting reparation. There is a Pan-African movement, and voices are chiming in from Brazil. In Canada, there is growing interest among the country's predominantly African-Caribbean black community.

The discussion surrounding reparations is different in every country where the black descendants of slaves live. The issue is far too complicated for an adequate representation here, but at its core is the belief among black people that our ancestors' debts are yet to be collected. And that payment of those debts would provide the resources needed to prepare African-Americans today for the demands of the future."

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 DR. Clarence J. Munford is Professor Emeritus of Black Studies and History at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, near Toronto. He was born in Massillon, Ohio on November 18, 1935. C.J. Munford, an African American with dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship, has taught in universities in Nigeria, Europe and U.S., in a college teaching career that began in 1959.

He introduced the first courses in Black history in an Ontario university in 1969. He is the recipient of the 1997 African Heritage Studies Association Book Award for Race and Reparations: A Black Perspective for the 21st Century. Munford is active in the N’COBRA campaign for reparations for African Americans.

He is a scholar and activist who has authored numerous articles, addresses and essays, and a three-volume autopsy of early Black enslavement in the West Indies, entitled Black Ordeal (1991). He has focused on the theory and practice of revolutionary nationalism from a Pan-Africanist slant.

Munford is the lead discoverer of civilizational historicism, the theory of human history from a Black vantage point. His newest work, a volume entitled Race and Civilization: The Rebirth of Black Centrality, elaborates and substantiates empirical discoveries presented in earlier works. Race and Civilization was awarded the 2002 AHSA Edward Blyden Book Award. This treatise offers civilizational historicism as the theory and practice of World Black struggle against global white supremacy in the 21st century.

Builds on the author's previous work, Race and Reparations(1996) and in a three-volume study of the Atlantic slave trade, Black Ordeal (1991). Bib, index, 443pp, USA.. AFRICA WORLD PRESS, 086543896X  2002 paperback 

Production relations, class and Black liberation: A Marxist perspective in Afro-American studies (1978)

Boukman and His Comrades  Atlantic Slave Traffic  N'COBRA   Benefits of Whiteness

The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World 

Reviewed by Mimi Sheller

David P. Geggus is a professor of history at the University of Florida in Gainesville and a former Guggenheim and National Humanities Center fellow. He has published extensively on the history of slavery and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on the Haitian Revolution. He is the author of Slavery, War and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 1793–1798 and an editor of A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean. Geggus lives in Gainesville.

Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804

A Brief History with Documents

By Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.   Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 11 March 2012




Home  Reparations Table / Religion & Politics  /  The Economy, Workers, and Financial Markets Table  / Toussaint Table 

Related files: The Political Thought of James Forman  Control, Conflict, and Change    Haitians Demand Reparations  Haiti Makes Its Case for Reparations   Race and Reparations   Race Racism Reparations 

Reparations for Darfur  Reparations and the Pan-African War on Genocide   Review of Essence of Reparations   Reparations Bill of 1967   Why We Owe Them  Delivering Good News to the Oppressed    Special Order 15 

Forty Years of Determined Struggle  A Caring and Just Society