Because of the ever-present crucible of slavery, reparations have always been some part of Black political discourse and movements, even when there has not been an active campaign. Groups like the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America have kept the demand alive over the years. In recent years new and creative approaches to reparations have surfaced. In particular, the reparations ordinance in Chicago that movement activists placed before the City Council and won. That ordinance called for reparations for victims of police torture and the reparations included not only a fund for specific victims, but mandatory inclusion of a segment on police torture in the Chicago Public Schools curriculum, a community healing center, and free college tuition for the extended families of torture survivors. This was limited, but in tone and tenor it was a move in the right direction. This issue takes up Black politics and reparations writ large. We hope that the same vision and creative strategizing that fueled the Chicago campaign can inform the discussion about this special issue. At a time when so many of the gains of the past are being taken away, we need anti-racist and anti-capitalist organizers to have a proactive strategy as well as a defensive one. Reparations demands are one flank of that offensive/proactive strategy.


Barbara Ransby, University of Illinois at Chicago

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton University