May 10, 2005 If Gov. Charles W. Turnbull enacts a resolution approved by the Senate last Wednesday, the recently formed African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA) would have the full support of the V.I. Government in accomplishing its mission.
The resolution, sponsored by Sens. Celestino A. White Sr. and Usie Richards, condemns the institution of slavery and allows the territory to seek reparations from Denmark.
Denmark owned St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix formerly the Danish West Indies from 1691 to 1917 and brought large numbers of African slaves to the islands before selling the territory to the United States for $25 million in gold.
In September, Shelley Moorhead founded ACRRA with the goal of seeking reparations from Denmark for the years of injustices done to the residents of the Danish West Indies.
White said Tuesday that ACRRA's goal was a noble effort. He came up with the resolution along with Richards, who had gone to Denmark in April as part of a delegation from ACRRA.
"What ACRRA gets through this resolution is an endorsement," White said. "It shows that they are not in this effort alone."
The resolution expresses support for ACRRA and its mission in seeking reparations from Denmark for the more than 175 years of enslavement of the people of the Virgin Islands.
The legislation also encourages the governor to explore creating models of reparation that might be adopted by ACRRA and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding April 11 to establish a joint task force to examine reparations for the effects of slavery in the territory.
Denmark had done injustice to the people of the Virgin Islands in the past, White said. "That cannot be denied," he added.
The reparations sought is not necessarily in the form of money, but more of an apology or admittance of wrong done, he said. That would improve relations with the territory, which would benefit its residents, including education opportunities.
In the 101st Congress, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced legislation against the inhumanity of slavery, White said. The resolution stated that it has been internationally recognized that "reparations is the appropriate remedy whenever a government unjustly abrogates the rights of a domestic group or foreign people whose rights such government is obligated to protect or uphold."
The resolution gave three examples:
– German reparations to the State of Israel for the Holocaust.
– United States reparations to Japanese Americans for illegal internment.
– United Kingdom reparations to the Maori People of New Zealand.
"People have always asked for relief from injustices that had been heaped on their ancestors," White said. He added ACCRA was "softening the path for those that will follow."
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