UWI Vice Chancellor to Address US Congress on Reparations

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.

WASHINGTON, United States, Wednesday June 19, 2019 – Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is due to address a historic sitting of the United States Congress on Reparations today.

Sir Hilary, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, was invited to participate in the long anticipated hearing by Texas Democrat representative Sheila Jackson Lee to appear before the House Judiciary Sub-committee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for a hearing on H.R. 40, the path to Restorative Justice.

“Given your long standing interest in H.R. 40 as a model for legislative action that has positively impacted the Reparations movement in the Caribbean, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, lead sponsor on the bill, would be honoured by your attendance at this momentous hearing,” Keenan Keller, Senior Counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee, informed Sir Hilary.

Sir Hilary has been a long standing ally of former Congressman John Conyers, who, for over 40 years struggled to get a Reparations Bill through the Congress. On several occasions, Sir Hilary and Rep. Conyers addressed the Congressional Black Caucus in an effort to build support in the Congress. Their long history of lobbying has now matured with this hearing.

Sir Hilary noted that it is a special tribute to the leadership of Rep. Conyers, as well as CARICOM, and Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves in particular, who five years ago established the path-breaking Regional Commission on Reparations that has inspired the political movement in the US. With Reparations taking centre stage in the current presidential debates, there is great anticipation that CARICOM and Congress will work more closely in advancing the cause that has eluded people of African descent for over a century.

Sir Hilary’s participation in the Congress follows his contribution at the British House of Commons in 2014, and his delivery of the keynote address at the sitting of the United Nations General Assembly to launch the International Decade (2015 to 2025) for People of African Descent.

Following the hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee, he will join Rep. Lee and actor Danny Glover before delivering the closing address at a public forum where he will place the Congressional event within global perspective.

Sir Hilary’s participation in today’s hearing follows his contribution at the British House of Commons in 2014, and his delivery of the keynote address at the sitting of the United Nations General Assembly to launch the International Decade (2015 to 2025) for People of African Descent.

In 2013, he was appointed Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission which has a mandate to prepare the case for reparatory justice for the region’s indigenous and African descendant communities who are the victims of Crimes against Humanity (CAH) in the forms of genocide, slavery, slave trading, and racial apartheid.

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