Edieth Y. Wu
excerpted from: Edieth Y. Wu, REPARATIONS TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS: THE ONLY REMEDY FOR THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE TO ENFORCE THE 13TH, 14TH, AND 15TH AMENDMENTS , 3 Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal 403 -429 (Spring, 2004) (187 Footnotes)
This article takes a hard look at U.S. history: the political, the social, and the legal landscape after the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. The author wholeheartedly believes that the Reparations dialogue must continue. Many, including well-educated Americans, are solidly divided on this important issue and have taken the position that Reparations should be buried because American slaves are buried. In spite of the difficulties, wemust study and question the societal norms that led to major changes in the United States and forge ahead to find a solution to the issues that adversely affect a major portion of America's citizenry. Reparations have been used internationally as well as domestically and are not novel theories.
The U.S. has not realized the great society that so many projected was possible for this nation. Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa after Apartheid, the U.S. must come to grips with its failures and shortcomings as they relate to a major sector of its population. Therefore, this article first examines the 13th Amendment, its purposes, and failures. Next, the 14th Amendment's purposes and failures are analyzed. Third, the 15th Amendment is analyzed. Finally, the article concludes that Reparations is the only remedy for the federal government's egregious breach of the protections that are guaranteed by the Amendments.
African slaves were subjected to extreme conditions, as well as continued acts of violence long after they were freed and in spite of major legal advances. Today, "when African Americans [descendants of the African slaves] say the word 'reparations,' you'd think they had suggested something completely outrageous." To the chagrin of many, "the concept is legitimate." Fifty billion dollars in restitution was paid by Germany to the Jews after WWII, and Japanese Americans received twenty thousand dollarsfrom the U.S. government as a result of their confinement in camps during WWII. The request for "reparations aren't some extralegal remedy that belongs to the past, but a process that is the usual means to resolve harms done by a nation against a people. The penumbras of the post slavery Amendments and the Government's failure to enforce the Amendments support such a process.
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