Louisiana activists to participate in U.N. Racial Discrimination Review of U.S. in Geneva
August 11–12 Black elders and community leaders from “Cancer Alley” will participate in the UN Committee on the Eliminiation of Racial Discrimination review of the United States where they will discuss the struggle of Black communities against toxic industry, environmental racism, and desecration of the burial grounds of enslaved people.
The delegation will urge the committee to affirm the United States’ failure to comply with its international human rights obligations. Representatives from the Descendants Project, Inclusive Louisiana, and Concerned Citizens of St. John Parish will detail their longstanding efforts to protect the health and heritage of Black communities from the ravages of environmental racism.
The three grassroots organizations represented submitted a shadow report, The Afterlife of Black Enslavement: Environmental Racism and the Desecration of Black History in Louisiana.
Our staff members, who represent the community organizations and helped prepare the shadow report, will also join the delegation. The delegation will also meet with relevant Special Mechanisms of the UN who have spoken out against environmental racism in Cancer Alley, as well as country missions in Geneva, with a particular emphasis on members of the Africa Group and countries in West Africa, where delegates trace their ancestry. And prior to arriving in Geneva, they will meet with UNESCO in Paris.
Please look for social media updates and live streams from us and the three groups as the week goes on!
For more information on our work with the Descendants Project, visit our website. There you’ll also find our information page for the case, The Descendants Project v. St. John the Baptist Parish.
Legendary Highlander Center fights to preserve its own legacy
A Tennessee organization with a celebrated history of training civil rights and social justice leaders is fighting for control of its own legacy. The Highlander Research and Education Center filed a petition with the National Park Service this week opposing the nomination of part of its original site to the National Register of Historic Places because the nomination form was prepared by the Tennessee Preservation Trust, a private entity that purchased the library property and other parcels that comprised Highlander’s original campus.
The trust did not include the Highlander Center in the process of nominating the original library site. The Tennessee Preservation Trust, Highlander says, is an unfit steward of Highlander’s legacy, as it lacks any connection to the organization or to the civil rights movement more broadly. The Trust is better known for its efforts to preserve Civil War history.
“Highlander's original name, Highlander Folk School, and site was stolen by the State of Tennessee through state-sponsored anti-Blackness and red-baiting, but our work has never ceased. We applaud efforts to preserve and tell the stories of social movements of the South and Appalachia, but we believe deeply in people from those movements telling the stories themselves,” said Rev. Allyn Maxfield-Steele, Co-Executive Director of Highlander.
Continue reading on our website.
On the extrajudicial killing of al-Zawahiri
In response to the U.S. government’s extrajudicial killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, we issued the following statement:
More than twenty years after 9/11 and nearly a year after President Biden withdrew troops from Afghanistan, his words accompanying the extrajudicial killing of al-Zawahiri were jarring, dissonant: “No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out," he said, maintaining that “justice has been delivered.”
Two decades of endless and unbounded war and the mounting crises of these painful, cruel, and exhausting times – from Covid to climate change, from police killings of Black Americans to the attack on reproductive freedom – should have sparked reflection and reprioritization of public resources away from militarism and into communities. The drone strike in a country where the United States is not at war, which rendered a balcony a battlefield, is more of the brutal same. The United States has abandoned Afghans, doing little to resolve the humanitarian emergency it helped to create, yet it claims the authority to duck back into the county to unleash an extrajudicial killing. This was not justice. The “war on terror” has brought not a shred of justice, only suffering and destruction. Justice requires reparations for the hundreds of thousands of people the U.S. government has killed and the millions it has displaced – nearly all of them Muslim – in the name of fighting “terror.” It requires a recalibration of national priorities and a commitment to accountability. Justice has not been delivered by abandoning the rule of law once again.
The struggle for genuine justice continues.
March 7, 2023