The Black Manifesto

On May 4, 1969, James Forman, director of international affairs for Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), interrupts Sunday services at the Riverside Church in New York City presents the Black Manifesto, as endorsed by National Black Economic Development Conference (NBEDC), demanding that “white Christian churches and Jewish synagogues . . . begin to pay reparations to black people in this country”:

We the black people assembled in Detroit, Michigan, for the National Black Economic Development Conference are fully aware that we have been forced to come together because racist white America has exploited our resources, our minds, our bodies, our labor. . . . We are demanding $500,000,000 from the Christian white churches and the Jewish synagogues. This . . . is not a large sum of money, and we know that the churches and synagogues have a tremendous wealth and its membership, white America, has profited and still exploits black people. We are also not unaware that the exploitation of colored peoples around the world is aided and abetted by the white Christian churches and synagogues. . . . Fifteen dollars for every black brother and sister in the United States is only a beginning of the reparations due us as people who have been exploited and degraded, brutalized, killed and persecuted.

The Manifesto specifies how the monies are to be applied, to a Southern land bank, publishing and printing industries, audio-visual networks, a research skills center, a training center, assistance to the National Welfare Rights Organization, a National Black Labor and Defense Fund, the establishment of an International Black Appeal to raise money for cooperative businesses in the United States and in Africa, and a Black university in the South.


Reference:  Harper’s Magazine, November 2000, Does America Owe a Debt to the Descendants of its Slaves?,in Should America Pay?: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations(ed. Raymond A. Winbush, PhD 2003) at p. 103

Jennifer Harvey, Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation(2014) at pp. 118-19

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