Some European nations are considering offering reparations for their involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and Caribbean plantation slavery during the early modern period.
Sir Hilary Beckles, a historian and university president in Barbados, and Jamaican historian Verene Shepherd have helped to organize a Caribbean movement to obtain reparations for slavery in the region.
The Caribbean Community (Caricom), composed of 15 member states, is pushing for “Britain, France and the Netherlands to pay an undefined amount of reparations for slavery and the slave trade,” according to historian Laurent Dubois. “The group plans to file suit in national courts; if that fails, it will go to the International Court of Justice.”
Laurent Dubois, who is a prominent historian of the Haitian Revolution, published an op-ed in the New York Times this week about the new reparations movement, emphasizing that “in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean, slavery remains a vivid and potent metaphor, and a cultivated memory.”
“In 2001 France decreed slavery a ‘crime against humanity,’ and the U.S. Congress formally apologized in 2008 for the ‘enslavement and racial segregation of African Americans,'” Dubois indicates. “But only reparations can reverse the long-term harm.”
Students in HIST 111 Western Civilization, 1500-1815 at Northern Illinois University will be interested in this op-ed since we are currently discussing Robert Harms, The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade.