Texas Wesleyan Law Review

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Part I of this Article offers an introduction to some of the historical individuals and institutions who were the principal early advocates for Black reparations. While many have contributed to the struggle for racial reparations, the Essay focuses on activists who devoted significant effort to the cause; conceived of their vision in the language of reparations, i.e., recompense for slavery; and organized institutions or movements to implement their vision. Section II then situates these activists within reparations conceived as a social movement. It also teases out of the history some of the tensions and competing visions within the movement-over the legitimacy of U.S. legal institutions; between racial elites and non-elites; and ideological differences over the purposes of reparations, i.e., full citizenship or separate nationhood. Part III supplements this history by introducing the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA), which was founded in 1987 with the express goal of revitalizing reparations as a grass-roots movement that would simultaneously be attractive to mainstream Blacks. While N'COBRA has been largely overlooked in the legal literature on reparations, a social movements approach foregrounds its contributions to the modern reparations activism. Part IV then presents biographical narratives of seven members of the N'COBRA Reparations Litigation Committee. The Authors interviewed these seven, asking them about the political and personal influences that led them to become reparations activists and to join N'COBRA's Litigation Committee. (The questions we asked the interviewees are included as an Appendix to this Article.) Part V concludes with some thoughts about how incorporating a "social movements" approach to reparations activism and this case study of N'COBRA's Litigation Committee and its members both supplements and challenges the emerging legal history of reparations and, more broadly, the struggle for racial equality and human rights for Black people.



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