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Panel Mulls Reparations' Merits

The panel forum dealt with many issues raised in David Horowitz's ad, which recently ran nationwide in college newspapers. The ad presents reasons why reparations are unrealistic for blacks in America.

Senior Adaure Achumba, who helped organize Tuesday's event, said Horowitz's ad sparked the forum, which involved a discussion of reparations in African countries for slavery, apartheid and colonialism.

Achumba directed the exchange between professors Harry Watson, David Newbury, Lisa Lindsay, Harry Amana and Perry Hall, as each gave their opinion on reparations to blacks and Africans. The specialization of each professor varied, enabling diverse opinions and solutions on the topic of repayment.

Amana, a journalism professor and acting director of the Sonja H. Stone Black Cultural Center, began the discussion by giving a brief history of the government's role in addressing slavery grievances and his view of the extended legacy of slavery.

"When people say that the remains of slavery are not with us, well, the remains of segregation are still with us and that is a legacy of slavery," he said.

Amana said he opposed giving blacks individual reparation payments but that he supported a government-established fund for blacks to go to such causes as education.

Watson, a history professor with a focus on the American South, presented a different opinion, finding actions to end inequality among economic classes more feasible. "It is more constructive to argue for measures to eliminate economic inequality without regard to color," he said.

Newbury and Lindsay, both history professors specializing in African history, focused on reparations to Africans from Western countries.

Newbury opened his comments by explaining major flaws in Horowitz's ad. He then discussed a solution to repay Africans by implementing the concept of collective reparations through the rebuilding of African economies.

Lindsay reviewed the damage that the slave trade did to the African population and consequently the economy and said "conversations toward debt relief is positive."

Hall, an African-American studies professor, reviewed the damage slavery has caused blacks in America and the contributions they have made. He said the discussion of reparations was the first step toward their realization.

Achumba wrapped up the evening by presenting her own opinion on reparations. "I think reparations are a possibility -- something that can be done."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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