Black Women Were Petitioning For Slavery Reparations Centuries Before It Became A Trending Topic

Black Women Were Petitioning For Slavery Reparations Centuries Before It Became A Trending Topic

The call for reparations is one that goes way back into the annals of history. Here are the Black women who fought for reparations.

Of late, the American media has paid increased attention to reparations. Recently, a panel of black activists, journalists, and academics, many who were the descendants of enslaved men and women, testified at a hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. They spoke in length for what was owed to the descendants of enslaved men and women following the centuries of legalized discrimination. 



 

Ta-Nehisi Coates made a passionate and enlightening speech about reparations which went viral on the internet. But the call for reparations is one that goes way back into the annals of history. Here are the Black women who fought for reparations: 

1. Belinda Sutton



 

Belinda Sutton or Royall was the first known Black woman to demand reparations for slavery. After her owner, Isaac Royall Jr. fled to North America following the Revolutionary War, he left a will which included provisions to pay Sutton a pension for three years. However, after the pensions stopped coming in, Sutton petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to continue her pension, with her argument baking on the fact that she lived in poverty and had significantly contributed to the Royalls' wealth. She successfully obtained an annual pension. 

2. Sojourner Truth 



 

In 1870, Sojourner Truth petitioned for reparations for slavery through land redistribution. The end of slavery marked Reconstruction. It was during this time that Truth argued that the slaves who built the nation have to be compensated for adding on to its collective wealth. She distributed circulars petitioning Congress to provide land to the 'freed colored people in and about Washington' which would allow them 'to support themselves'. Unfortunately, Truth's efforts were not successful. 

3. Callie House



 

Callie House was an ex-slave who was also a widow and a mother to five children. After seeing the condition of ex-slaves who were sick, old, and unable to work to survive, House went on to become one of the leaders of the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association. Gathering thousands of former slaves, House relentlessly petitioned for the US Congress to pass legislation to award pensions for freedpeople. She was also accused of committing a fraud scheme which landed her in jail for a year in 1916. 

4. Audley Eloise Moore 

 



 

 

Having no formal school education didn't stop Audley Eloise Moore from educating herself on the history of her people. In 1955, Moore passed around pamphlets that read 'Why Reparations? Money for Negroes'. Her push to bring reparations to light shot her to international fame. She continued to fight for reparations till her last breath. 

5. Deadria Farmer-Paellmann

 



 

Activist and lawyer Deadria Farmer-Paellmann had founded the Reparations Study Group. She went on to file a class-action lawsuit under her name for reparations from three companies in the United States which profited from slavery. One company on the list was Aetna Insurance Company which held an insurance policy under the name of Abel Hines who was Farmer-Paellmann's enslaved great-grandfather. Even though the case was dismissed in 2004, her efforts saw to it that the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted plaintiffs permissions to engage in consumer protection claims which exposed the names of the companies named in the lawsuit. 

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