Reparations support given
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Sep 26, 2002
1/20/13 at 8:14 AM
A leading legal scholar and
leader of the slavery reparations
movement loaned encouragement Wednesday to a group
seeking compensation for survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.
Charles Ogletree told representatives of the Tulsa Reparations Coalition that his group,
the Reparations Coordinating
Committee, has long been interested in Oklahoma and the riot
that destroyed the heart of Tulsa's black Greenwood district
and left dozens dead and thousands injured.
He and coalition members
later met privately for a conference call with some of his colleagues.
Ogletree was in town to present the third Buck Colbert
Franklin lecture at the University of Tulsa. He laid out his argument for slavery reparations
to an audience of several hundred people in the Allen Chapman Activity Center's Great
"We have done a lot of thinking about race in this country,
but we have not had a serious
discussion of race," Ogletree
"I am not just talking about
the late 1800s and early 1900s;
I'm talking about the problems
of African-American communities that continue to this day.
"In talking about reparations,
I'm talking about repairing. I'm
talking about reconciliation.
This is not just financial."
That's not to say that substantial sums of money are not
Although Ogletree said he
and other leaders of the movement provide their services for
free, he estimated that as much
as $12 trillion could be at stake.
That's how much Reparations
Coordinating Committee researchers say could be recovered through lawsuits against
state and federal governments
and private businesses that ben
efited from slavery.
Whatever comes from reparations suits should not be paid
directly to individuals, and under no circumstances should
people like Charles Ogletree receive any of it, he said.
"I'm very committed that this
money . . . not go to the
Charles Ogletrees, the Oprah
Winfreys and the Bill Cosbys. It
should go to those who have
never benefited from being
Americans. This money should
go into a trust fund . . . for the
least of us."
It is Ogletree's contention
that black Americans are owed
something not only for slavery
but for much of what has come
since -- that is, what he described as the nation's refusal
to make its former slaves and
their descendents full citizens.
"What happened in 1865 was
that slavery ended in theory
but continued in fact. African-
Americans were told, 'You're
free -- but you can't vote.
You're free -- but you can't
drink from this fountain. You're
free -- but you can't eat in this
restaurant. You're free -- but
you can't go to this university.' "
Since the 1950s, Ogletree
said, cities have experienced
not only white flight but black
middle-class flight, with those
left behind more frustrated and
economically isolated than ever.
These are the people, he
said, who need reparations.
He brought up Gen. William
T. Sherman's Field Order 15,
which recommended that 40
acres be given to freed slaves
in South Carolina.
Remembered as the "40 acres
and a mule" provision, Sherman's recommendation was
never carried out.
"The promise was broken
then," Ogletree said. "It's broken today."
Randy Krehbiel, World staff writer,
can be reached at 581-8365 or via