In Support of H. R. 40--Commission to Study Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act. Rayburn HOB, Room 2226 Washington, D C. April 6, 2005.
I extend my appreciation to the Honorable John Conyers and the esteemed members of Congress for allowing me this opportunity to testify today. In addition, I thank N'COBRA (The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America) for their unwavering leadership on the issue of slavery reparations.
My name is Deadria Farmer-Paellmann. I am Adjunct Professor of Law at Southern New England School of Law. I serve as Executive Director of the Restitution Study Group--a nonprofit organization that examines approaches to securing restitution for injuries inflicted upon oppressed people. I am also lead plaintiff in the landmark class action case pending in an the Chicago Federal District Court against 18 corporations due to their historical roles in the enslavement of Africans.
I appear before you today to express my personal support for HR40. Further, I would like to emphasize that many institutions with which I am affiliated also support the bill and recognize that it is through operational unity, from the grassroots up, that this nation will be blessed with passage of the law. Some of these organizations include: The Restitution Study roup, The National Black United Front (NBUF), headed by Dr. Conrad Worrill of Chicago; and the N'DABA movement. 2 My role in the struggle for slavery reparations began as a law student at New England School of Law, in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1997. I went to law school specifically to develop a case for slavery reparations--and serve as law clerk for N'COBRA during that time. Attorney Adjoa Aiyetoro was my first guide in this work, as well as Sister Johnita Scott Obadele.
As a student, I thought my reparations case would be against the federal government for the forty-acres and a mule promised in General Sherman's Field Order 15 during the Civil War. However, due to legal hurdles in litigating against the federal government, including sovereign immunity, I began focusing on corporations and private estates that were built on slavery. I took a class called Race and the Law, taught by Robert V. Ward, now Dean of Southern New England School of Law.
I choose to present a case for reparations that required me to research my family roots to link myself to a particular company. To conduct the complicated genealogy research required to trace enslaved ancestors, I referred...