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By Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, CARICOM Reparations Commission —

As you, our African American compatriots, rise to recognize and celebrate the legal ending of the chattel bondage of our ancestors, we, your brothers and sisters from ‘your islands’ downstream Mississippi are standing with you in joyous remembrance of the journey.

We have always recognized our unity as one people with a common history, legacy and cause. We fought against our enslavement together; we endured and resisted the dispossession of post-slavery plunder together; we formulated and advocated a common dream of liberty and freedom for our children together; and we were united and mobilized as one people by our heroes, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr and Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

But before these 20th century moments of magnificent mobilization we were shown the bright light of liberty by our Haitian comrades who destroyed and criminalized all forms of enslavement, and built the First Nation upon the basis of universal equality and freedom for all. Today we remember our Haitian trailblazers who continue to be punished for the power of their example.

From the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture to the BLM movement, the Caribbean has stood in solidarity with our mainland brothers and sisters. For us in the English speaking islands, August 1st is Emancipation Day, and is a public holiday. We join with you in the quest that Juneteenth shall be made a public holiday. It should stand as a reminder that the enslaved African people were the first persistent campaigners for freedom and justice in America.

Indeed, long before the American Revolution, and framers of the national constitution, the African people were theorizing and fighting for freedom. Indeed, with the Native American people the Africans laid the intellectual and political foundation for the American concept of freedom and liberty.

You have kept this legacy alive. Indeed, today, many of your leaders of respect and sincerity have hailed from the Caribbean and are making seminal and transformational contributions to this common heritage of democracy in action. Today, we celebrate them as American emissaries of the new Enlightenment.

On behalf of the Caribbean Reparations Commission, we send a message of love and solidarity. We have your back today and always will.

Hilary Beckles


IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.