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Illinois forms Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission

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On October 10th, Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D-14th), along with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd), and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3rd), State Rep. Eddie Washington (D-14th) announced the formation of the Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission.

Under the direction of Dr. Anderson Thompson, senior research coordinator and director of research and evaluation, the Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission ("ITSTC") brings together nationally known historians and researchers, including: Dr. Carl Bell, Dr. Samella Abdullah, Dr. Asa G Hillard, III, Dr. Harvette Gray, Dr. Wade Nobles and Standish Willis, a prominent civil rights attorney.

The ITSTC will prepare a study addressing the impact of politics, economics, education and societal issues on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and slavery.

The study will focus on the institution of slavery from 1619-1865; governmental support for the institution of slavery; discrimination by law in public/private sectors against freed Africans; and the negative effects of slavery. The ITSTC will submit recommendations for educating the general public on their findings, i.e., inclusion on the K-12 curriculum, post-secondary curriculum, teacher training programs, etc.

The Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission will be administered and housed at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois University.

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2 WHEREAS, Approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their
3 descendants were enslaved in the United States and colonies
4 that became the United States from 1619 to 1865; and

5 WHEREAS, The institution of slavery was constitutionally
6 and statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United
7 States from 1789 through 1865; and

8 WHEREAS, The slavery that flourished in the United States
9 constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans'
10 life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural
11 heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor; and

12 WHEREAS, Sufficient inquiry has not been made into the
13 effects of the institution of slavery on living
14 African-Americans and society in the United States; therefore,
15 be it

18 CONCURRING HEREIN, that there is established the Commission to
19 Study the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its Past and Present
20 Effects on African-Americans (hereinafter referred to as the
21 Commission); and be it further

22 RESOLVED, That the Commission shall perform the following
23 duties:
24 (1) Examine the institution of slavery which existed
25 within the United States and the colonies that became the
26 United States from 1619 through 1865; the Commission's
27 examination shall include an examination of:
28 (A) the capture and procurement of Africans;
29 (B) the transport of Africans to the United States
30 and the colonies that became the United States for the

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1 purpose of enslavement, including their treatment
2 during transport;
3 (C) the sale and acquisition of Africans as chattel
4 property in interstate and intrastate commerce; and
5 (D) the treatment of African slaves in the colonies
6 and the United States, including the deprivation of
7 their freedom, exploitation of their labor, and
8 destruction of their culture, language, religion, and
9 families;
10 (2) Examine the extent to which the Federal and State
11 governments of the United States supported the institution
12 of slavery in constitutional and statutory provisions,
13 including the extent to which such governments prevented,
14 opposed, or restricted efforts of freed African slaves to
15 repatriate to their homeland;
16 (3) Examine Federal and State laws that discriminated
17 against freed African slaves and their descendants during
18 the period between the end of the Civil War and the
19 present;
20 (4) Examine other forms of discrimination in the public
21 and private sectors against freed African slaves and their
22 descendants during the period between the end of the Civil
23 War and the present;
24 (5) Examine the lingering negative effects of the
25 institution of slavery and the matters described in
26 paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4) on living
27 African-Americans and on society in the United States;
28 (6) Recommend appropriate ways to educate the general
29 public of the Commission's findings;
30 (7) Examine whether African-Americans still suffer
31 from the lingering effects of the matters described in
32 paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4); and be it further

33 RESOLVED, That the members of the Commission shall include
34 the President of the Senate or his or her designee and the
35 Speaker of the House of Representatives or his or her designee,

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1 each serving as co-chairpersons, the Governor or his or her
2 designee, one vice-chairperson appointed by each of the
3 co-chairpersons, and 25 appointed members, with the Governor,
4 the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
5 Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the
6 Minority Leader of the House of Representatives appointing 5
7 members each; and be it further

8 RESOLVED, That the appointed members shall be from diverse
9 backgrounds so as to reflect the diverse citizenry of Illinois
10 working together, and that their individual qualifications
11 shall include varying educational, professional, and civic
12 experiences that bring different perspectives and cooperative
13 outlooks to the Commission; and be it further

14 RESOLVED, That the Commission shall broaden outreach by
15 using established channels, including publicly-supported media
16 and electronic, computer-assisted communication systems, and
17 elicit voluntary assistance from educational, legal, civic,
18 and professional organizations and institutions as well as
19 notable individuals; and be it further

20 RESOLVED, That no later than December 1, 2006, the
21 Commission shall report to the General Assembly, the Governor,
22 and the general public on its activities, accomplishments, and
23 recommendations; and that the Commission shall be dissolved
24 after the filing of this report; and be it further

25 RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
26 delivered to the Governor of the State of Illinois.

--From Northeastern Illinois University press release dated 10/10/06

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What do you expect to accomplish with this than fostering further racial divide and wasting taxpayer money?


The goals of the commission were set out in the post. But I think we need a better understanding of the slave trade and its impact slave descendants. Why should researching this issue be considered "fostering further racial divide?"

We've raided the Teacher's Pension Funds, so we can do this?

Everyone knows the slavery issue was deplorable and one of the biggest violation of human rights; second only to the slaughter of the native Indians.

How about a commission on healthcare reform? Or, one on industry-retention, to reduce high paying manufacturing job loss?

No instead, we are going to re-pay some our political cronies with do-nothing jobs, to create a report no one is going to read and which will not lead to any meaningful legislation.


Well, I'll read it. As for raiding the teacher's pension fund, I doubt that's where the money came from. There are already commissions on healthcare reform which resulted in All Kids Healthcare, remember that?

How laughable. Let me make sure that I am getting this right. After this commission is formed, which I imagine will take several days or weeks, it will spend roughly one whole month doing research to discover the effects of slavery on the black community. Wooooo! One whole month. They are going to look at 387 years of history, the histories of dozens of nations, and make recommendations on how we should educate future generations.

Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this? Does anybody else find it interesting that this commission will last for only one and one half months and was formed only weeks before elections? Where is the outrage in the black community?

I would have no problems if they actually made an honest go of this, but that just doesn't seem to be the case here. I'm not a fan of doing things half-assed. If they're going to do something, they should do it in a way that would produce results that leave little room for doubt. I am, of course, aware that new evidence is discovered all the time that changes our knowledge of history. But this? To me, this approach to the subject doesn't seem like it will solve anything and will only lead to more problems.


Point of clarification: The commission was actually formed earlier t his year and approved for funding on May 31, 2005. Obviously these academics haven't been sitting around waiting for funding. Each of the professors named to this commission is an expert in African and black History. So know, this is not a report that get slaps together in one month.

What a waste.-
"The study will focus on the institution of slavery from 1619-1865; governmental support for the institution of slavery; discrimination by law in public/private sectors against freed Africans; and the negative effects of slavery."
In other words "the study will focus on the obvious, already known aspects of slavery and will exist to legitimize black America's infatuation with all those critical as being racist. It will also spend a lot of money to emphasize to students how America's founding fathers were as heroic as the devil becuase they owned slaves"
Seems like if Slavery is not in the spotlight of every discussion, you will find a way to bring it in.
Does black America know anything about the war of 1812, the Mexican American war, or even the 54th regiment in the civil war? These are things that need to be taught.
Mary, it is unfortunate, but there will always be racist people in the world. Just as there will always be those who don't think the Holocaust happened. Sad but true.

This seems comparable to a committee organized to educate people about the Holocaust. Slavery is a sad part of our national history and it's important for us to have a clear understanding of what we did, why, and how it has affected us as a country. Why? So we don't repeat it. For those who would say that's ridiculous, just look around at some recent legislation, like the elimination of habeas corpus. Listen to the political rhetoric of some extremists today, and how those views have gotten mainstream attention and support. I am white, but we need to know exactly where we've been to determine where we are going.

This is the kind of inquiry and respect that this historical tragedy requires. This is more important than any check white people are afraid we might be getting.

I would hope that enough research is done on the activities that took place in Africa by a relatively few Africans to silence those who use that fact as an excuse to end all further investigation and debate.

This looks like a very sophisticated study, I wish them all the best.

I think this is a great educational tool. I think this is awesome!!!

It's official then; the Yanks have gone collectively potty. Oh dear...............

In my opinion this is a waste of time and resources. A major crisis is at hand now, men and women leaving the penal system and not being able to work due to their backgrounds while DUI offenses get a slap on the wrists, having small amounts of drugs on you ruins your life. Why the focus on the slave trade? Put the pressure on these corporations that receive state and federal "welfare" to hire people. It would reduce crime, increase the tax rolls and reduce the reliance on local and federal services.


How much focus do you think is actually being put on reparations?There's a small group of academics, and a handful of politicians who are pushing the reparations issue, and the group of plaintiffs are private citizens.

Your idea to pressure corporations to hire drug felons is interesting. How do you propose to move it forward?

Lets see, 2 weeks until election. Blagojevich, Daley, Stroger, etc. they reek with corruption. And especially alot of stuff coming out on Blago's people lately. Plus, Topinka and Peraica are somewhat liberal as far as republicans go. Therefore, hey an idea. Lets set up a Slavery Trade Commission before the election to guarantee our voting bloc shows up on election day.

With the trillions of taxpayers dollars wasted in Iraq how can anyone complain of this study?As far as this study being a waste I dont think so ,the detractors are the same ones who want us to "forget about slavery" while at the same time making memorials and TV commercials everyday reminding us about how "bad the holocaust was ,and how we never should forget(what a hypocritical comment by some).While most whites can relate to the holocaust they have only one idea in their mind when blacks seek justice ,whos gonna pay for this and "blacks want something for nothing."),strange words from a race of people who had slaves and tried to make blacks work for nothing.Alot of whites understand the call for reparations ,most dont they would rather see the govt. steal our taxpayers money then have any go to african-americans.The funny thing is african -americans survived and contributed to american society after slavery and will continue to survive with or without reparations.I ask whites and blacks go to Black inventors websites and you will see the many contributions that have been made.Slavery affected us all and will be felt by many generations to come ,but to try to convince the offspring of slaveholders most who cant fathom their ancestors could do any wrong is a hard sell.Racism in America still is as present as ever ,it just now shows itself in more covert ways.I have always said racism creates crime and poverty in 99% of situations.If whites realized they were making the environment bad for their own children and grand children maybe they would wake up.Reparations is not only about money ,its about fairness,correcting past wrongs and showing the world that we care about our own .How can we possibly go to another countries to teach them about Democracy and fair elections when our elections are rigged and we treat our own citizens so poorly?(they have internet, read american newspapers and study history too)this study to some may be a waste of time but to others who relatives were murdered ,suffered through the worst humiliations possible it will do alot to bring us closer to some sort of closure.300 trillion dollars(3000 american troops along with hundreds of thousands of civilians) for a war that was based on lies and deception of the american public,that seems more of a waste then a study to study the effects of slavery on our society.Now think about it which one was the waste of money?

"Why should researching this issue be considered fostering further racial divide"...asks a coy Mary Mitchell. She knows damn well that the study is a necessary part of building a case for the reparations movement which, if it continues, will be one of the most racially divisive issues in American history. Mary Mitchell makes her living off of the racial division and she knows quite well what furthers it and what does not. Mary Mitchell also states (in another blog) that in order for reparations to be discussed, we must agree that a wrong occurred and still needs to be righted. I guess she meant that only blacks must agree because it's not a stretch to surmise that a rigged study conducted by black academia and sponsored by black politicians will give Ms. Mitchell the fair concensus she desires. She and many other blacks will throw up their hands and say "see, we got a study that proves what we've all been saying". What a joke. What a complete joke.

Who wants money on the fact that the study, in short order, will prove exactly what it sets out to prove. I you think the study will come out and say that the effects of slavery are gone? Do you think the study will say that there is no connection between slavery and the astronomic rate of black illegitimate births, the destruction of the black family unit, and the number of black men in prison? Do you think the study is going to say that the drug, bling, and hip hop culture which is further eroding black America, and America in general, is a character issue rather than an effect of slavery? Come on man..the study is loaded from the get-go. In this study, every ill of black America will be pinned on slavery. White Americans better come out of the haze and wake up to the stuff that liberal academics and liberal politicians are pulling right under their noses with their own money. Why do Illinois residents keep bums and vermin like Michael Madigan in office? I swear, Illinois has the most moronic voters in America. In an ironic twist, I do thank Mary Mitchell for publishing and exposing all the nonsense that is going on because to most sleepy Americans, this extortion attempt called "reparations" is flying under the radar. One day when reparations are on the verge of becoming reality, Americans will say "how in the hell did this happen". Wake up America. Find out where your candidates stand on this crap.

I think this commission has the potential to do a great service, I hope they live up to the large responsibility. My brothers and sisters who post here and read this blog, please take heed to the immense animosity and effort the haters here and in the World go to to keep us uneducated about the NOT SO DISTANT past. Please educate YOURSELVES. To those haters, as recently as 1964 blacks were being beaten and murdered by official of several States in this union. Remember Selma, Memphis, Jackson, the Pettis Bridge incident, etc... These people were actively fighting and killing blacks AND WHITES who were trying to exercise the most basic right a citizen of this country has. The right to vote. Many of those people are alive today, do you honestly believe they don't owe a debt?

No where in any Slave Trade discussion is their any mention of the real facilitators of the slave trade: The British, French and Dutch traders and the AFRICANS they hired to hunt down and trap Africans to be sold into slavery. Any talk of slave reparations should start with them.


I agree that discussions of slavery should inclulde the root of the institution that you mentioned.

If this was truly going to be addressing the institution of slavery, why is there no mention of the Irish slave trade carried out by the English during the colonization of Ireland by Cromwell? During this period the population of Ireland was reduced dramatically by slavery, forced emmigration and acts of genocide carried out by the English, yet no one acknowledges these events ever happened. Why is that?


Possibly because this did not happen in the U.S. The Reparations Movement addresses the institution of slavery in the U.S. slipped up a little in your response to Leonard. In doing so, you revealed your not-so-well disguised hopes for what this study will lead to. Who mentioned reparations in the context of this study? Leonard didn't. Neither did you when you wrote the original text. The study seemed to be passed off as an educational tool. Why the mention of reparations in your response to Leonard? Are you confused as to which blog topic you are in?
Let's be honest here. We all know that this study is about reparations and getting the legal ducks in order. Let's just cut through the BS and be honest...OK?? I don't wish for one of your nasty comments as a reply...just be honest.


Chad, now who's being nasty?

Mary blacks need to look no farther than the Democratic Party. The institution that made slavery possible. Jefferson Davis would be proud that Robert "Sheets" Byrd is alive and kicking in the US Senate! Blacks sold themselves for the great society votin Democratics. 90% like clockwork! And have your neighborhoods gotten better or worse in the last 50 years? Keep votin and watch those rap videos that glorify dope dealin and degredation of women.


Pete, I still don't understand how the Democratic Party made slavery possible.

Any company that has received local or federal monies should hire ex-felons, depending on the background. There are people who have clean backgrounds for 10-15 years and the offenses are minor drug charges. In my opinion, you should be able to work unless you have crimes such as theft, assault or sex-related offenses. You have companies like CDW and Boeing that received millions of dollars and if you go past their offices, they are almost all white and even though there are programs in place (a state funded program pays for the bonding for ex felons) most companies still refuse to hire them. I speak on this because most of the volunteer work I do at my church is with ex felons. Men and women who have clean records for 15 years cannot get jobs that pay a decent wage. Yet, when you read about white men and women with DUI records they can go back to work without any problems. I find all of this offensive that black politicians do not speak on this subject.


Actually, Rep. Danny Davis has been a tireless advocate for ex-felons. He has sponsored a number of bills in Congress that address this issue, and has secured funding for local organizations that secure employment for ex-felons. Also, the Illinois Black Caucus have sponsored a package of expungement laws that has helped improve the job opportunities for ex-felons. So it is unfair to accuse black politicians of not speaking out on this subject.

It amazes me how white people are now so concerned about their tax dollars. This government has been bilking us for 6 years now (spending a billion dollars/month on this idiotic war in Iraq)and not a peep from any of you. One study that no one knows the cost of (surely it's not a billion dollars) and all the white people are suddenly fiscally conscious.

Mary, BTW, I'm a different John then the one who brought up Cromwell and the Irish slave trade which the English were indeed guilty of. .. You brought up that Danny Davis has worked hard trying to get ex-cons employable. I give him all the credit in the world for it. Especially since, and folks don't know this, most of these felons were NON-violent drug offenders. Not the gangbangers, per se. However, here is what none of the media, Black Leaders, and journalists, will admit too. It was the Clinton Administration (the first BLACK President according to many prominent African-Americans) who incarcerated MORE of these folks then any other administartion. Again, mostly NON-violent offenders. Just as it was 'the first BLACK President' who pushed through NAFTA (which has cost semi-skilled and non-skilled manufacturer jobs in our urban CITIES to go overseas), Welfare Reform (I call it the PSMN--Poor Single Mother's Nightmare), '3 strikes and your out', do-nothing on Sudan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and other policies...Also, I agree with Len. I don't like my tax $$'s being spent on Iraq under Bush. Just Like I didn't like fighting in VietNam, sent there by Lyndon Johnson. And I definately don't like my tax-dollars going to pay a 'Urban Translator' (I can't get over that, I'm sorry) who many years ago brought fear, pain, suffering, and sorrow, to the good people in the Black Community. And whose friends robbed mother's of their sons. Sending many to early graves. Why is everybody so quiet about that?

"The sky is falling!"that is the response of most whites who are asked to comprehend any subject that deals with the history of racism.Some of the ignorant comments made by whites even when shrouded with pseudo-intellectual jargon is a embarassment to our society.They complained about affirmative action,hired trucks etc."But",were the first ones to steal and pretend they had minority owned businesses to beat the system(thank God alot were caught and went to jail)Whites were the first to criticize our music(rap etc.) then they purchase more Rap/soul music then blacks do.(how hypocritical!)If blacks culture is so negative why do whites try to copy everything? The racist nature of the argument that the study about slavery is a waste of money then say nothing about a expenditure of 500 billion dollars on a phony war in Iraqi is transparent.(while North Korea notices our distractions and revs up its nuclear arsenal)Great choice for a leader Bush was.It seems like the 99% of blacks who didnt vote for him were right on,no matter if whites admit it or not.He tells us Saudis are our friends but forgets to mention all of the 9-11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.So before you blame Ms Mitchell for reporting about the slavery commission and for having the"AUDACITY"to speak her mind.Remember this country has been made into a great country by the contributions of everyone.The last 6 years we have seen a erosion of our rights and liberties under the guise of ("war on terrorism)whites should be more worried about the 2 billion dollars aday our borrowing from China and our increasing Global Warmng problem then trying to make sure blacks "dont"get they day in court concerning reparations and such.Use of fearmongering and racial codewords by neocon(artists)and reichwingers seem to inundate or media.And will whites please stop using "the race card claim"everytime blacks try to seek justice ,for blacks it is ludicrous when they hear that from whites anyway,they all know the"race card "had been played on them for 400 years!

Mary, the Democratic Party did NOT cause slavery. Neither did the Republican Party...No, that infamous sad part history belongs to John Smith, his fellow English, and Spanish, Dutch, French, and Portgugese merchants and traders, and their North African muslim, Ibo, and Ashanti Tribesmen accomplishes. PERIOD ! Thats where the blame lies......What Pete C. I think was trying to get at when he brought up 'voting 90% like clockwork' was he feels (as do alot of people) that the Black Community has created its own rut. Because when you vote basically only one-way one party will 'take you for granted' and the other will give up, figuring even if they do the right thing you still won't like them. So they forget about you--a 'whats the use' attitude. Not that they have always done right things. Think about it. The party you have casted your fate with send more of your sons to prison (overwhemily NON-violent drug offenses), denied your young getting apprenticeships and other positions (especially the Chicago Trade Union Locals), taken welfare help away from single mothers, looked the other way when Blacks in Africa were victims of horrible genocides,and outsourced thousands and thousands of jobs out to foreign countries (GAIT, NAFTA, W.T.O). And you called the guy who did it 'your first BLACK President'. Guess where most of those lost jobs where located? In our cities. And who resides in our cities? They've pulled the 'wool over your eyes' as they say. Especially when you automatically give them 90% of the vote as Pete C. is suggesting. What has made the Asian-Americans so successful here is they've made the two parties COMPETE for them. In otherwords, 'kiss there a--." As have ethnic white areas. This has been the Black Communities biggest blunder. Thats what Pete C. is trying to get. Pete, if it isn't, let us know.

Very interesting Ms. called me nasty when I would have settled for you convincing me I was wrong. Wrong about this study being nothing but a supplement to the reparations movement but financed and publicized under the guise of "educational". I'm not wrong, am I Ms. Mitchell?? Do you have the intellectual honesty to just admit what you already divulged to Leonard?



Dave - thank you for post. Finally someone making sense.

I back up what Dave said when he says us voters in Illinois need to vote out these pandering politicians. These democrats in this state are just trying to secure the black vote by backing this study(although they already have the black vote in their hip pocket). So my message to white people in this state is to wake up before it's too late. Take some time away from watching some ghetto NFL game and start paying attention to the real world.

Dave:you stated,"find out where your politicians stand on this crap"sounds like racial code words to me!Whites are always claimingblacks play the race card ,but the factis the race card has been payed on blacks for 400 years . If your relatives were murdered and abused I believe you would have every lawyer you can find "on the case"your ignorant comments are a direct result of your ancestors stupidity(and inbreeding) to actually think it was a good thing to have someone to be your "slave"so you and your kind could get 'something for nothing"(you always claim blacks do this)people better wake up The Rush Limbergers.Sean"insanity"Hannity and others of that ilk, they are a embarassment to america as is your hero Pres .Bush.He along with you has made the US weaker with phony superiority complexes that usually reflect a low self esteem problem.(you feel better by putting others down)this white superiority BS and not understanding others trials and tribulations always will come back and haunt you.HAVE A IGNORANT DAY,but Remember you "reap what you sow",Dave........the truth

Dave - couldn't possibly have said it better.

This is a "racial" issue because even today, our race matters. It matters in the work place, when your purchasing a home and when you go to the store. I have noticed that whites hate this subject. They seem to hate being reminded that their own ancestors and government (run by whites) practices its own form of American Apartheid for hundreds of years. Escpecially, the systematic, government supported oppressive tactics that were America to keep blacks "in their place". Most whites try to erase the idea that slavery, and its effects, matter at all. This study will put help to rest these attitudes by educating the public as to why these things matter today. This study will help our black children not to forget where they came from and help them to see the strength of our people. Jewish people often say, "never again". They have every right to and so do we. Slavery is often downplayed in our media, public education and government as something we should forget about. I teach my children not to forget about it. I educate them on the approx. 4,000 men and women that were lynched right under our noses--in this country. I tell them how some blacks who could "pass" as white preferred to live that way, just so they could be treated like a person. How we were no better in our segregation that South Africa and could not drink from white people's water fountains--by law! I tell my children that I am 43 and I remember--in my life time--white people in this country turning over buses so that their children would not have to sit next to black children. That was not that long ago. I hope we never forget.

you may never know how expedient this study is until you yourself become a slave. I pray it never gets to that. this study as controversial as it seems would benefit both whites and blacks. how do you expect to be one community if after so long you are still divided over your skin colour- sad that you marry each other. forget the tax payers money- wat must be done must be done or else the next time the slave trade happens, it JUST MIGHT BE WHITES!!!! mary you rock. keep up the good work...

you may never know how expedient this study is until you yourself become a slave. I pray it never gets to that. this study as controversial as it seems would benefit both whites and blacks. how do you expect to be one community if after so long you are still divided over your skin colour- sad that you marry each other. forget the tax payers money- wat must be done must be done or else the next time the slave trade happens, it JUST MIGHT BE WHITES!!!! mary you rock. keep up the good work...

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on October 17, 2006 5:05 AM.

Reparations debate: Mitchell/Steinberg was the previous entry in this blog.

Northwestern University Race Study is the next entry in this blog.

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