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Civil rights attorney argues cash payments to descendants of slaves ‘recognize the harm done’ from slavery

A civil rights lawyer representing descendants of the enslaved black people who built Saint Louis University said cash payments are one way to recognize the harm caused by slavery.

Civil rights attorney Areva Martin spoke Wednesday in an interview with FOX News Digital about reparations claims for descendants of slaves, arguing that the agency owes these descendants cash compensation for unpaid labor. did.

“It’s not that cash payments alone are enough; it’s just that cash payments are a way of recognizing the harm that has been done,” Martin said.

On February 8, Martin and members of Descendants of Enslavement at St. Louis University announced that the group had calculated that: It had up to $74 billion in debt. Free labor for school construction.

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In an interview with Fox News Digital, civil rights attorney Areva Martin discussed potential remedies for the slaves who built St. Louis University, arguing that the university owes descendants of slaves a debt of unpaid labor. (Fox News Digital)

Their press conference was part of an ongoing effort since 2019 to pressure universities to work with descendants of slaves in some way. But Martin and his client felt they were going “round and round.”

He said the lack of progress had forced him to convene economists and policy experts to advance the dialogue. Martin explained at the press conference that while the university acknowledged its ties to slavery, mere “admission” does not make his client “whole.”

Economist Julian Malveaux estimates that there is a $365 million labor force based on “70 enslaved people working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from 1823 to 1865.” He said he estimated it. There is an obligation to do unpaid work.. Taking into account interest, the amount increases to he $ 70 billion.

“Also, why would these institutions devote all their resources and use economists, statisticians, and labor experts to tell us the value of the wages and wealth they have amassed?” You have to ask yourself, did it not happen?” Martin said. Fox News Digital. “It just looks like a gaping hole. So I think we need to reframe the question: Why don’t universities share with families the value of their labor and the value of their accumulated wealth? Do you want it?”

Martin sent a letter to saint louis university President Fred Pestello said that even though the organization is already “taking steps to recognize and commemorate its history through the Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project (SHMRP),” He said more efforts needed to be made.

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SHMRP is a report published in 2016 based on research into the relationship between universities and slavery.

Martin said the report reveals that the Jesuits “forced slaves to migrate from Maryland to St. Louis in 1823, specifically to take advantage of stolen labor and technology to build St. Louis University.” He said it became.

Martin told Fox News Digital that the narrative around reparations also needs to change.

“People always ask descendants and survivors, ‘Why do you want money?’ And I think the question should be the opposite: ‘Why don’t you come to us with money? ‘?’ Martin said.

saint louis university

The announcement, made during a media briefing Thursday, took place at St. Louis University’s Busch Student Center. (Google Maps)

“When we think about the victims of 9/11 and the victims of any disaster in this country, there’s never a question of whether we should compensate them. It’s part of our civil, legal justice system. There’s harm in you, someone.” Otherwise, it’s because of it. You have a right to compensation,” Martin said.

Martin represents more than 200 descendants of Henrietta Mills and Charles Chauvin, members of the St. Louis University Descendants of Enslavement.

“We’re not asking for benefits,” Robin Proudy, Mills’ great-grandson, said at a news conference last week.

Descendants of Enslavement at Saint Louis University was founded by Proudie. Proudy discovered that Mills learned that he was born into slavery at the university in 1844 and discovered that information in original documents in the Saint Louis University archives.

“I think we need to change the narrative around this issue,” Martin said of the debate over reparations. “Families and individuals seeking compensation are often defensive, as if they have done something wrong.”

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The lawyers argued that compensation for harm done “can never be challenged, except in cases involving black people.”

She added that if someone worked for her and was not paid, they would have recourse.

“You could go to the labor commission. You could go to our court and demand compensation for your work. You could sue me for not compensating you. You will be able to do the following: Pay interest on wages that I have not paid you,” she said.

Martin said this is “not new to capitalism.”

“This is how our country was built. This is how we operate today,” Martin said.

“We acknowledge that progress has been slow in our efforts to reconcile this shameful history and regret the hurt and frustration this has caused,” Saint Louis University (SLU) officials told Fox News Digital. Sent a statement.

“Continuing this work is a priority for SLU and the Jesuits. As we move forward, we will rebuild relationships with all descendant families, build deeper relationships, and support those who were enslaved.” “We look forward to working together to explore the best way to honor the memory of the Jesuits,” the statement continued.

saint louis university campus

Saint Louis University officials sent a statement to Fox News Digital saying, “We acknowledge the slow progress in our efforts to reconcile this shameful history and regret the hurt and frustration this has caused.” Ta. (Google Maps)

“They’re open to everything,” Martin said after meeting with university officials after the press conference.

“Our request for restitution is not a calculated sum,” Martin said. “We calculated that amount because we felt it needed to be part of the conversation. It’s on the table. We’re not asking for $74 billion. I We are asking them to consider the value of their slave labor in the same way.” They are considering another aspect of their relationship with enslaved people. ”

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Martin said she hopes descendants will rejoin the committee to reconcile the campus’ past ties to slavery.

Other contributions the university can make include building a monument to commemorate the slaves who built the university, and educating people about the “extensive work” done to study the school’s past links to slavery. Examples include changes to the curriculum.

When Fox News Digital asked SLU officials about how they would specifically implement relief measures for the descendants, they responded, “The university has no further comment at this time.”

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