Think Tank Heads Available for Comment on Reparations Debate

Published September 28, 2006

(Chicago, Illinois – September 29, 2006) On Wednesday, September 27, advocates of reparations for slavery appeared in Chicago to argue their case before a three-judge panel under jurisdiction of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. They sought a new ruling following rejection of their case last year by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle.

Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast and Lee Walker, who is president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change and a member of the Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission, are available to talk to reporters about reparations. Both have written and debated the issue for several years.

According to Bast, who is white, “the case against reparations is easy to recite, but most of it misses the real moral basis of the debate and ignores the true feelings and objectives of many supporters of reparations.” The debate over reparations,” he notes, “can be positive and healthy, provided its partisans don’t fall into the usual traps of accusing their opponents of being racist or just plain evil.”

Finally, Bast notes, “a middle ground–a national apology for slavery, but not reparations–could potentially generate a lot of public support.” Full-length essays on the subject by Bast, published in July 2004, can be found here

Lee Walker, who is black, remains “undecided” when it comes to reparations. “Some of the proponents for reparations use the issue just prior to national elections to increase black turn-out for Democratic candidates, even though there is little or no chance of reparations ever becoming public policy,” says Walker, who grew up in Alabama and marched in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. “At the same time,” Walker says, “reconstruction in the South was a total disaster for blacks in terms of unpaid labor that has never been acknowledged by whites. So reparations should not be dismissed out of hand.”

Walker says he prefers to debate over reparations rather than continuing the old argument over affirmative action, which today is no longer a racial remedy as it was designed to be. A collection of essays written by Walker on a wide range of topics can be found here:

For more information about The Heartland Institute or The New Coalition, or to interview Bast or Walker, contact Mike Van Winkle at 312/377-4000 or via email at [email protected].