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Elaine Massacre reparations bid receives $50,000

Tj2-21i-1 by Bill Bowden | December 21, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

National groups are working with descendants of the 1919 Elaine Massacre to get reparations.

The Fund for Reparations Now has contributed $50,000 toward the goal, according to a news release from the National African-American Reparations Commission.

The Fund for Reparations Now consists of "white Americans in support of the National African-American Reparations Commission," according to its website, fundforreparationsnow.org.

The Fund for Reparations Now has pledged to raise $150,000 to help the Elaine Legacy Center "towards its priority agenda for reparatory justice," according to the release.

In mid-October, the fund and commission, along with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, announced their intent to join descendants of the Elaine Massacre still living in the area in the effort.

"The Elaine Massacre was by far the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and possibly the bloodiest racial conflict in the history of the United States," according to an Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry written by Grif Stockley.

The riot stemmed from tense race relations and growing concerns about labor unions.

"A shooting incident that occurred at a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union escalated into mob violence on the part of the white people in Elaine and surrounding areas," wrote Stockley. "Although the exact number is unknown, estimates of the number of African Americans killed by whites range into the hundreds; five white people lost their lives."

The uncle of author Richard Wright was lynched during the Elaine Massacre, according to the news release.

"Property was seized and a community was decimated, but the outcry for reparations by the descendants, which has been demanded for generations, hitherto has largely fallen on deaf ears," according to the news release.

Through the work of the Elaine Legacy Center, descendants have begun to draw more attention to their cause, according to the release.

"Under the leadership of General Secretary Dr. Iva Carruthers, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference convened the Elaine Truth Telling Commission to hear testimonies from the descendants," according to the release. "A major goal of the Commission is to document and gain national and international exposure for the courageous struggle for justice by the descendants of Elaine."

"Because of the support of these national groups, we, as descendants of the Elaine Massacre, are able to further our goals to seek restitution for families and communities; bring new life in the form of educational and economic development," said James White, a spokesman for the Elaine Legacy Center. "For starters, we are establishing a computer lab for our youth, planning a memorial service for the uncle of Richard Wright and beginning to plan for the restoration of a historic educational museum facility in Elaine."

More information is available at elainelegacycenter.org.

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