August 13, 2002

Tickets for Back-to-Africa


      Cable television-producer Rachael Dawson has embarked on a documentary about "reparations," the notion that Negroes should be paid because their ancestors had been slaves. The New York Times recently interviewed Richard Barrett on "reparations," in which Barrett stated that the focus should be on West Africa, where Negroes had been enslaved by their own people. "Let the descendants of the tribal chieftains pay the descendants of their own slaves," quipped Barrett. The newspaper killed the story.

      Whites, of course, had been slaves, themselves, in ancient Greece and Rome, and many served as indentured servants in colonial America under British rule. But there has been no hew-and-cry for whites to be accorded "reparations" from Greece, Italy or England, largely because whites consider themselves self-sufficient. In fact, opinion polls have indicated that Americans stand overwhelmingly opposed to the entire "reparations'" scheme. However, there have been rumblings about what role, if any, "reparations," or some sort of payments, by whatever name or description, might play in expanding outward immigration to what Americans call the "Dark Continent" and Negroes term their "Traditional Homeland."

      Nationalists Gerald McManus and Robert Jackson have volunteered to do the Dawson Project, prompting an examination of the role which "reparations" might have in repatriation efforts. While the term "reparations" is distasteful to Americans, subsidies -- sometimes called "boat tickets" -- to bring about Back-to-Africa are not and never have been. While "Boat Tickets to Africa" have been prevalent in everything from "underground" social activism to cartoons to the brunt of jokes, repatriation is a genuine and on-going ideal and cause. The slogan, Boating, Not Bussing, even became a popular protest against the bussing of students into inner-city schools in order to attempt racial integration.

      From the Negro standpoint, Back-to-Africa is sometimes known as "Pan-Africanism," "Afro-Centrism," the "Back-to-Africa Movement," "Black Nationalism," "Black Israelism" and, even, "Black Hebrewism." From the white perspective, it has been characterized as "repatriation," "colonization," "Back-to-Africa" and, even, an adjunct of "reparations." Ironically, repatriation has been called for by staunch Nationalists and Communists, alike, as well as by all shades of political color in between.

      "Back-to-Africa" has been poignant ever since the Negroes were brought to America, largely on slave ships owned by Dutch and Portugese Jews, who reaped enormous profits from the enterprise. The popular bumper sticker, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, I Would Have Picked My Own Cotton, points up the boiling cauldron of frustration over what has lately become the Africanization of America. Rampant reproduction, subsidies and favoritism, borne out of rioting and civil-disobedience during the Sixties and fueled by the pandering of the likes of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, have escalated minorities from being just an irritant to being a threat to the nation.

Jefferson's warnings

      Thomas Jefferson said, matter of factly, that Negroes could never live under the same government as white people. The Dred Scott decision of the United States Supreme Court detailed how persons of African descent were never intended to be part of the body-politic and were forever excluded from participation of citizenship. Even the "Great Emancipator," Abraham Lincoln, was said to have favored eventual Back-to-Africa.

      The American Colonization Society, which worked feverishly toward repatriation, had many prominent patriots as members, during the Revolutionary War period, including Francis Scott Key. Even Abolitionism, at the time of the Civil War, did not particularly conflict with the repatriation objective. President Ulysses S. Grant, the Union Civil-War general, proposed -- not once but twice -- legislation to repatriate Negroes (freed slaves and other "persons of color") to Haiti. The bills were narrowly defeated in the Congress. Grant insisted that Haiti could accommodate fifteen million Negroes, more than the entire Negro population of America, at the time.

      The country of Liberia, established by President James Monroe, was set up specifically as a terminus of freed slaves returning to Africa and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress. The capital, Monrovia, is named for the American President who not only gave us the Monroe Doctrine, to free America from European intervention, but the Back-to-Africa plan, to free the nation from African occupation. Liberia, to this day, maintains a traditional welcome for repatriated Negroes and its very name was conjured up to appeal to those coming out from under White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) rule in America.

      Repatriation, also, gained momentum through such spokesmen as Senators Ben "Pitchfork" Tillman of South Carolina and Theo. G. "The Man" Bilbo of Mississippi. Bilbo had collected an astounding three-million petition signatures of Negroes desiring Back-to-Africa, in the period following World War II. His book, Take Your Choice, Separation or Mongrelization, became a best-seller in the Forties and Fifties.

      During World War I, Negro Henry Turner, also known as the "Black Moses," founded his own "Back-to-Africa" Movement, as he called it, which had a significant following. Turner was succeeded by Negro Marcus Garvey, during the Twenties, who gained even more adherents through his UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association). Garvey formed the "Black Star Lines," a steamship company established to transport Negroes back to Africa. Many descendants of slaves actually returned under Garvey's auspices.

      Even self-avowed Negro communists, such as WEB DuBois, a "founder" of the NAACP, and Stokeley Carmichael, founder of the "Black-Power" movement, returned, themselves, to Africa, where they died, all the while urging other Negroes to follow them back to Africa, which they described in glowing terms as their "motherland," "traditional homeland" or "womb-land."


      Mark Watts, founder of The Nationalist Movement, has, also, been a strong proponent of Back-to-Africa, as has Negro Robert Brock, a speaker for the Pace Amendment Committee. Brock, himself, has been an instigator of various "reparations'" tax-protests. The Crosstar website, as well as many others, touts the Back-to-Africa line and has critically -- though sometimes even favorably -- examined "reparations" as part of a repatriation program.

      Talk-Show Host Phil Donahue has interviewed Negroes who have been in the process of returning to Africa. They have suggested that America will save money, as well as social conflict, as Negroes relinquish claims to Social Security, welfare and other payouts by returning to Africa. The British National Party, which has maintained talks with Negroes desiring to be repatriated from England to Africa, was promoted in America by Mark Cotterill. The late Lady Jane Birdwood, a renown Nationalist elder stateswoman, was a major proponent of Back-to-Africa from her London residence, until her death recently at 94.

      David Duke had conducted Back-to-Africa confabs with Negroes calling themselves "Black Nationalists." Negress Audley "Queen Mother" Moore, a follower of Garvey who dubbed herself a so-called "Black Nationalist," preached the Back-to-Africa doctrine from her Harlem residence up until her death recently at 98. Various Negroes, such as former New-York mayor David Dinkins, credited Moore for being their "inspiration."

      When large numbers of Negroes were deployed to Somalia as part of America's ill-fated military intervention, Nationalist Richard Barrett and Black-Power spokesman Steve Cokeley separately advocated incentives to keep them there. Cokeley spoke from the vantage point that "we want out of this racist country," whereas Barrett proclaimed that repatriation would be "good for America and uplifting for humanity." Barrett predicted that "repatriation is inevitable. It is only a question of when."

      Author Gregory Krupey, who claims that reparations might be feasible but only if part of repatriation, writes that ''a Negro-free America will be the first giant step to reclaim our stolen heritage." Krupey's slogan is No Black Reparations Without Black Repatriation. Robert Jackson calls reparations -- which he prefers to call "travel allotments" -- "useful" in an over-all repatriation agenda.

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