What is N'COBRA?

The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America is a mass-based coalition organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States.

N’COBRA’s founding meeting, September 26, 1987, was convened for the purpose of broadening the base of support for the long-standing reparations movement. Organizational founders of N'COBRA include the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the New Afrikan Peoples Organization, and the Republic of New Afrika. N’COBRA has individual members and organizational affiliates. It has chapters throughout the U. S. and in Ghana and London. It is directed nationally by a board of directors. Its work is organized through nine national commissions: Economic Development, Human Resources, Legal Strategies, Legislation, Information and Media, Membership and Organizational Development, International Affairs, Youth and Education.

In September 2003, N’COBRA formed a 501(c)(3) corporation, N’COBRA Legal Defense, Research and Education Fund. The mission of this 501(c)(3) is to develop and implement projects to educate and seek reparations for Africans and People of African descendant. As a 501(c)(3) it will not engage in lobbying which is one of the primary focuses of the parent organization, N’COBRA.

What is Reparations?

Reparations is a process of repairing, healing and restoring a people injured because of their group identity and in violation of their fundamental human rights by governments or corporations. Those groups that have been injured have the right to obtain from the government or corporation responsible for the injuries that which they need to repair and heal themselves. In addition to being a demand for justice, it is a principle of international human rights law. As a remedy, it is similar to the remedy for damages in domestic law that holds a person responsible for injuries suffered by another when the infliction of the injury violates domestic law. Examples of groups that have obtained reparations include Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust, Japanese Americans interned in concentration camps in the United States during WWII, Alaska Natives for land, labor, and resources taken, victims of the massacre in Rosewood, Florida and their descendants, Native Americans as a remedy for violations of treaty rights, and political dissenters in Argentina and their descendants.

Why are African Decendants entitled to reparations?

The Trans-Atlantic Slave "Trade" and chattel slavery, more appropriately called the Holocaust of Enslavement or Maafa, was a crime against humanity. Millions of Africans were brutalized, murdered, raped and tortured. They were torn from their families in Africa, kidnapped and lost family and community associations. African peoples in the United States and the prior colonies were denied the right to maintain their language, spiritual practices and normal family relations, always under the threat of being torn from newly created families at the whim of the "slave owner." Chattel slavery lasted officially from 1619 to 1865. It was followed by 100 years of government led and supported denial of equal and humane treatment including Black Codes, convict lease, sharecropping, peonage, and Jim Crow practices of separate and unequal accommodations. African descendants continue to be denied rights of self-determination, inheritance, and full participation in the United States government and society. The laws and practices in the United States continue to treat African peoples in a manner similar to slavery - maintaining dual systems in virtually every area of life including punishment, health care, education and wealth, maintaining the myths of White superiority and African and African descendants’ inferiority.

What is N'COBRA relationship to the International Reparations Movement?

Although N'COBRA's primary focus is on obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States, it is a part of the international movement for reparations. Under the leadership of its International Affairs Commission, N'COBRA works closely with Africans, African descendants and supporters of reparations for Africans and African descendants throughout the world. N'COBRA members were very active during the preparatory process for the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) and the Non-Governmental Organization Forum and government conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. N'COBRA leaders were in the leadership of the African and African Descendants Caucus formed during the WCAR preparatory process. N’COBRA leaders play a leading role in the International Front of Africans for Reparations (IFAR) formed at the African and African Descendants Conference in Bridgetown, Barbados in 2002. N'COBRA understands the status of Africans and African descendants in the United States, throughout the Diaspora, and on the Continent is based on the same or similar crimes against humanity. N'COBRA acknowledges that the success of the movement for reparations for Africans anywhere advances the movement for reparations for Africans and African descendants everywhere.

What forms should Reparations take?

Reparations can be in as many forms as necessary to equitably (fairly) address the many forms of injury caused by chattel slavery and its continuing vestiges. The material forms of reparations include cash payments, land, economic development, and repatriation resources particularly to those who are descendants of enslaved Africans. Other forms of reparations for Black people of African descent include funds for scholarships and community development; creation of multi-media depictions of the history of Black people of African descent and textbooks for educational institutions that tell the story from the African descendants' perspective; development of historical monuments and museums; the return of artifacts and art to appropriate people or institutions; exoneration of political prisoners; and, the elimination of laws and practices that maintain dual systems in the major areas of life including the punishment system, health, education and the financial/economic system. The forms of reparations received should improve the lives of African descendents in the United States for future generations to come; foster economic, social and political parity; and allow for full rights of self-determination.

Who should recieve reparations?

Within the broadest definition, all Black people of African descent in the United States should receive reparations in the form of changes in or elimination of laws and practices that allow them to be treated differently and less well than White people. For example, ending racial profiling and discrimination in the provision of health care, providing scholarship and community development funds for Black people of African descent, and supporting processes of self determination will not only benefit descendants of enslaved Africans, but all African descendant peoples in the United States who because of their color are victims of the vestiges of slavery. This is similar to the Rosewood, Florida reparations package, where some forms of reparations were provided only to persons who descended from those who were injured, died and lost their homes and other forms were made available to all Black people of African descent in Florida.

Who must make reparations?

N'COBRA seeks reparations at this time from two groups: governments and corporations. There are individuals, families, and religious institutions that directly benefited from slavery in the United States, and who, if acting in good faith, would contribute to reparations funds for use in assisting in the reparations process. However, we choose to focus on government and corporations because of their particular role in the horrific tragedies of chattel slavery and the continuing vestiges of slavery we live with today. In addition, we recognize that all White people to some extent have benefited from slavery and the underlying lie of White Supremacy that allowed it to exist for two and one-half centuries in the United States. This lie has led to what is commonly called "white skin privilege" and results in significant benefits to White people. The process of reparations would include creating ways to change the culture of "white skin privilege" that was created to sustain chattel slavery and its continuing vestiges.