The Far Rockaway N.A.A.C.P. chapter president, Ed Williams, outlined a number of topics that would be addressed at future meetings.
The Far Rockaway chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) recently held its monthly meeting at Junior High School 198, located at 365 Beach 56 Street. The meeting featured two of the keynote speakers who took part in the "World Conference On Racism", which took place in Durban, South Africa, this passed summer.
A number of stories were written in daily newspapers about the role of the United States, or the lack there of, at what many considered to be a conference of utmost importance.
Dr. Evelyn Mauss, member of the Far Rockaway N.A.A.C.P. chapter and President of the Women's League for Peace and Freedom, has traveled extensively throughout the country in order to address racial and religious injustice. She shared her views on the United State's decision to walk out of the conference in Durban.
"It was very disappointing to see how we, as representatives of the United States, reacted at this crucial gathering. Although I understand that the situation became tense, it was not to our benefit to just walk out. You cannot resolve problems by walking away from them."
Dr. Evelyn Mauss has traveled extensively throughout the country in effort to address racial and religious injustice.
Mauss also pointed out that the news media was less than honorable in its reporting of the South African conference.
"The news organizations, in both electronic and print mediums, only focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a growing movement toward the acquisition of reparations for African-Americans. This conference was about so much more, and it's truly sad that they ignored so many other important issues that were the topic of discussion."
Dr. Mauss took time to note that "environmental racism" was a major point of discussion as well. Under this practice, toxic and bio-hazardous sites are constructed in predominately poor (minority) areas. Many of the large capitalist corporations, which have taken root throughout the country and abroad, such as Exxon, are responsible for the existing condition, according to Mauss.
"Environmental racism is the worst kind of racism there is. There is so much documentation to prove that it exists, and people are getting sick and dying because of it. Unfortunately, those who are suffering the most are people of color, here in America and in third world countries."
Linda Roots presents three proposals that are to be the central focus of a declaration presented to Congress to address the issue of reparations.
Linda Roots, legal counsel to the Elmhurst-Corona chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. and consultant to the United Nations on the World Conference on Racism, conveyed to the chapter that zenophobia, a fear of people from foreign lands, was also an issue highlighted at the conference. This was a topic of particular interest, especially after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
"While we recognize that there is a legitimate concern for the safety of all Americans, we must not lose sight of the rights granted to us in the Constitution of the United States. We must be careful not to label people because of what they look like or where they come from," stated Roots.
Toward the close of the meeting, Roots indicated that a march on Washington was being organized to commemorate the 115th birthday of civil rights pioneer, Marcus Garvey. The "Millions March for Reparations" is scheduled to take place on August 17, 2002. During the event, a declaration will be presented to Congress that will address three important issues: Slavery; the Economic Basis of Slavery; and Reparations.
"The march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 was enormous, and we are hoping to exceed the number of participants in that march. There are more and more people coming on board every day who want to help with the project. This is going to be something on a very large scale, and as Africans, it will make feel a strong sense of pride and unity," said Roots.
The march is being constructed through the efforts of many organizations, such as the Durban 400, an organization that took part in the World Conference on Racism. They have gained notoriety as result of lobbying in Congress for reparations for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
While the conference was not given the attention it deserved, by U.S. representatives or the American press, both speakers are pleased with the outcome overall.
According to Roots, "The conference was a victory because it brought many Africans and the those of African descent together. It was a dynamic experience for me in terms of learning more about Africa and the struggle to obtain reparations."