As Juneteenth comes into the national focus, it’s time for us to talk about the reparations movement. For the first time in decades, reparations made it onto the presidential debate stage in the Democratic primaries. Marianne Williamson made the case for paying reparations now, and millions of Americans cheered.

The first-ever ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery) conference was held in 2019, and it brought together black leaders from across the country. One of the main topics concerned the status of the reparations movement and how we could advance the cause, as pressure and popular opinions grows around it.

Juneteenth and Reparations

Juneteenth commemorates the end of formal slavery — June 19th, 1865 — the day that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas.  

When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of the Civil War, there were an estimated 4 to 5 million slaves in the American South.

General Tecumseh Sherman promised every former slave family of four, forty acres and a mule. Only a few actually received the acreage. Most of whom were granted it had it rescinded.

And this financial gap has never been closed.

The Reparations movement stands for payment of this debt that is owed to the descendants of American slaves.

The Reparations Movement

We at HigherU celebrate Juneteenth by highlighting movement builders Cameron Whitten and Salomé Chimuku. Cameron, a community organizer, and Salomé, a policy researcher and lobbyist, are harnessing the power of #BlackLivesMatter through their organization — a reparations fund—The Black Resilience Fund.

They recently launched the fund to support black Portlanders in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.  

In just 2 weeks, they’ve raised over $630,000 for black Portlanders in need to pay for essentials such as diapers, phone bills, rent, and gasoline. Their goal is $1,000,000 by the end of today (June 19).

According to Cameron by phone yesterday, “The surge of interest in The Black Resilience Fund isn’t just about stopping police brutality, or ending the killings. The movement we’re building is about healing the impacts of racism for all of us. Healing for the people of color who’ve suffered, and healing for the white people who’ve caused or enabled it  those whose hearts are broken.”

How did Cameron and Salomé raise so much money so quickly?

  1. They’re harnessing #BlackLivesMatter movement to galvanize their cause.
  2. They were ready to act: Cameron has been advocating for and building public monthly meet-ups  known as “Reparations Power Hours” for two years.
  3. They’ve organized 600 volunteers on the ground.
  4. They’re using Facebook Live and other social media to amplify their message.
  5. Their social media is converting into invitations to speak publicly and privately  virtually  to Portland community organizations who want to support The Black Resilience Fund.

Learn More About the Reparations Movement

Want to learn more of the story on how Cameron Whitten and Salomé Chimuku’s galvanized their slice of the BLM movement?

Thank you Cameron, Salomé, and all of you Movement Builders who are making sure that NOW is the time to make sweeping changes and take giant strides toward making amends for the unthinkable injustice.


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