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Does Obama Favor Slavery "Reparations?"

March 26, 2008
By Cliff Kincaid

Barrack Obama’s pastor not only spews anti-American rhetoric from the pulpit but favors shaking down U.S. taxpayers for “reparations” for slavery. The Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright was the keynote speaker at the 2007 annual conference of N’COBRA, which stands for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America.


Wright’s talk, “A Call for Justice and Repair,” followed a statement in which he declared that “The Biblical principle of true repentance is that the offended party is given compensation to make up for that which has been stolen from them, the losses that have been inflicted upon them and their families.” 

A reparations plan for blacks could extract several trillion dollars from American taxpayers’ pockets.

But Wright isn’t the only controversial member of Obama’s church. Dr. Iva Carruthers, who describes herself as an active member of the church, is an outspoken advocate of reparations for blacks and was a participant in N’COBRA’s 2004 conference. 

Carruthers was identified, along with Wright, as a member of Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee. Wright has since been dropped from the group. But Carruthers is sometimes referred to as a spokesman for Wright and works with him closely.

Indeed, Carruthers may be even more controversial, especially on the issue of reparations. She wrote The Church and Reparations?An African American Perspective, which was reportedly “distributed by her denomination” at the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The conference was considered so extreme that the U.S. delegation, led by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, walked out.

Not only are members of his church involved in the reparations movement; Obama is said to have been politically close to former Chicago Alderman Dorothy Jean Wright Tillman, who led an effort by the Chicago City Council to demand reparations for slavery. “Chicago has become the de facto center of the slavery reparations movement,” noted a journalist for the far-left In These Times.

The Obamas’ just-released 2006 income tax return shows that they gave $22,500 to Trinity United Church of Christ, which they attended with such figures as Wright and Carruthers.

Despite going to the same church, however, Carruthers told me that she has no idea as to where Obama stands on the controversy. “I don’t have any insight at all,” she said, before saying that she had to leave for another engagement.

Carruthers is the General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, which includes Wright on its board and describes itself as a social justice organization. The website of the group includes a statement that “Dr. Wright represents the best among us, one of the best in this tribe of prophetic preachers. He has made his church a place where one could express the centuries-old pain of being Black in America, while finding strength for a brighter day. An attack on this man of the God is an attack on all those of the cloth who believe in the social Gospel of liberation.”

Both Wright and Carruthers were involved in the Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission, established by the Illinois State Legislature in 2005. Its purpose was to examine the “past and present effects on African-Americans” of the slave trade and it issued a report in 2007. Wright was an “associate” of the commission while Carruthers was the “senior research consultant.”

Its findings included that Christopher Columbus was part of the Catholic Church’s “century of blood” in the establishment of the slave trade system, and that civil war U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, acknowledged to be “the most famous son of Illinois,” didn’t morally object to slavery but only wanted to “restore the Union to white consensus.”

In 2003, Carruthers spoke on behalf of Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ at a “summit on reparations” opened by Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. Another group represented at the Farrakhan summit was the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), which seeks the creation of a black nation in the U.S. in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

In 2007, Carruthers endorsed a document urging that “Financial and human resources be identified and made available, in trust and otherwise, with appropriate church, community, and academic entities to effect institutional development and remedies from the Transatlantic slave trade system and colonialism at the local, national and global levels.” The document said that reparations should be “offered for the healing of peoples who were once enslaved.”

Like Obama, Carruthers and Wright have been deeply involved in African affairs. They traveled to the “motherland,” as they call it, where Wright was photographed in Ghana in “full ceremonial regalia” as a “development chief” and Carruthers was elevated to the position of “queen mother.” Obama’s wearing of African garb became a national controversy.

But the more important issue, from a public policy perspective, is how he would handle taxpayer dollars.

While Carruthers said she did not know where Obama stood on the issue of reparations, the Chicago Tribune reported that he was asked in 2004 about the matter and “spoke about how slavery had left a stain on the country that has yet to be eradicated.” Nevertheless, he said that he opposed “just signing checks over to African-Americans.”

During the presidential campaign, the issue came up during a Democratic presidential debate and only Dennis Kucinich said he favored reparations. Obama changed the subject, saying he favored more spending on schools.

Carruthers told AIM that reparations have to include much more than financial payments.

She may have in mind not only an apology from the federal government but some form of spiritual or psychological help for black victims of the slave trade.

In this regard, the N’COBRA conference that featured Wright also included a panel discussion of “Post-Traumatic Slavery Syndrome.” In a variation of this theme, the Philadelphia branch of N’COBRA had advertised a sold-out lecture on the subject of “Post-Traumatic Slavery Disorder (PTSD),” described as one of the Psycho-Racial Spiritual Diseases of Americanized Africans (PRSDAA). The speaker, a psychologist, said that black-on-black violence could even be attributed to undiagnosed PRSDAAs.

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now engaged in a fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was the Clinton Administration that helped to make reparations into a national issue. President Clinton had proposed a $10 million federal research program to study the problem of racism in America. It was described by the Associated Press as “a way to measure the impact of racial bias in everyday life” and was seen as potential backing for legislation proposed by Rep. John Conyers to establish a national commission to study the matter.

Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has endorsed Obama for president.

Conyers’ bill to create a “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans” was first introduced in 1989. He praised N’COBRA in a statement he issued in 1999 and sponsored a subsequent event, “Capitalizing on Our Strength?Empowering the Reparations Movement,” featuring a representative of N’COBRA.

The issue became so big that the CBS Evening News, then hosted by Dan Rather, did a story about the controversy, highlighting the fact that the Chicago City Council has become the fourth major city to pass a resolution calling for reparations.

Randall Robinson, the director of the group known as Trans Africa, wrote a book, The Debt, on the subject, and hosted a conference on reparations featuring such luminaries as actor Danny Glover.

One of the liberals’ favorite television shows, “West Wing,” about a fictional White House, also examined the controversy in the context of a controversial nominee for assistant attorney general for civil rights who advocated financial reparations for slavery.

At the time, we noted that three veteran Democrats were advisers to the show. They were former Clinton White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers, former Carter official Patrick Caddell, and former Senate Democratic aide Lawrence O’Donnell. Time magazine reported that Conyers’ staff had sent along “200 pages of material on the issue of paying reparations to black Americans as compensation for slavery” to the producers.

Interestingly, it has now been reported by The Guardian that one of the characters in the show, a presidential candidate, was modeled by one of the Democratic writers after Obama. The character in the program wins the presidency.

If this happens in real life, we may finally find out where Obama really stands on the issue of reparations.

One thing is certain: Carruthers is hoping for an Obama win. Federal Election Commission records show that she gave his Illinois Senate campaign $500 and his presidential campaign $2300. She gave contributions to no other candidates.

Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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