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In the spring of the 2019, the Columbia Journal of Race and Law invited activist, attorney and scholar, Nkechi Taifa, to Columbia Law School for a public lecture on the topic of Reparations for descendent of enslaved Africans in the United States. Reparations has been a subject to much public discourse over the years and, in the last decade in particular, there has been a renewed interest on the political viability of establishing a federal commission to study the harm caused by slavery and develop recommendations to repairing those lingering harms on living African Americans today. On June 19, 2019, the House of Representatives held a historic public hearing, where prominent African American scholars, activists, writers, lawyers, amongst others, shared their thoughts on the topic of reparations. This renewed interest is a culmination of over a century long struggle by the reparations’ movement in the United States.
Ms. Taifa offers that historical view of the reparation’s movement in the United States. In her captivating address to the Columbia Law School community, Ms. Taifa articulates the passions, courage, vision, successes, frustrations and resilience of the Reparations movement in the United States from the late 1800s to the present. At the conclusion of Ms. Taifa’s remark, it was obvious to us at CJRL that Ms. Taifa’s timely messages was much a much-needed intervention in the Reparations discourse. It is with that aim that the CJRL editorial board, in consultation with Ms. Taifa, decided to publish her remarks. Aside from the citations and annotation, the text below is largely as she delivered it a Columbia Law school audience on March 26, 2019. We are grateful to Ms. Taifa for allowing us to publish her speech and for working with us through the editorial process. We are overjoyed to be able to share her work with the world.