Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a quintessential adult educator and social justice advocate. The Highlander Research and Education Center has to its training credit Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and Septima Clark who, as attendees, learned strategies and models for adult literacy and civic engagement used to power the American Civil Rights movement. Dr. King was an explicit advocate for restorative justice for black American citizens via reparations (Coates, 2014). We share the common aims of human fulfillment and positive social change with the association. We also agree that AAACE’s vision is operationalized in its mission to advocate for public policy and social change that expands adult growth and development, ultimately resulting in more productive and satisfying lives.
Humanitarian aid to other countries is a very different call than reparations to the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). Reparations are a debt due to stolen labor and wealth as a direct consequence of the U.S. slavery economy. The most salient evidence of inherited disadvantages is the contemporary racial wealth gap. Wealth is transferred through families and not realized when your government holds you in bondage as a commodity. Being resourced enough to support a $5 million international project is amazing! It too speaks to the disparate economic capacity between ADOS and beneficiaries of the wealth generated by their parents. I can imagine that through reconciling the massive racial wealth gap, ADOS participation in leading such projects would be far more commonplace. I’d like to recommend my co-authors’ recent book, “From here to equality.” It clarifies how reparations programs for the victims stolen and sold to this land is not humanitarianism, but reconciling a debt owed.
John A. Henschke, EdD, Emeritus Professor of Andragogy, Lindenwood Univ., St. Charles, MO
Although reparations may be a topic for consideration, I wonder where support would be obtained? Others from other countries were persecuted and forced to leave their homeland, and nobody supported them in the USA after arriving, despite the fact many died along their way, aiming toward freedom. In 2004, an appeal for help in adult education came to AAACE from Mali in West Africa (the second poorest country on our globe). I was requested by the AAACE Office and Board to get involved in helping them which I was delighted to do. Nonetheless, when I inquired about the infrastructure help they needed and asked AAACE to get seriously involved, the Board 'balked'. Thus, I moved ahead on my own with some personal friends. Since 2004, we managed to build and equip a healthcare facility for a tiny village; we dug a pure water well, shipped four loads of healthcare supplies; for a total $5 million.
We welcome feedback and comments from AAACE members (or the general public) about this call for reparations to black Americans (ADOS). We feel it is a very timely topic and a justice claim long overdue.