Obama administration earmarks $12 million in reparations for Holocaust survivors

President Obama and reparations question(Photo Source: Official WHite House Photo and historical image)
President Obama and reparations question(Photo Source: Official WHite House Photo and historical image)

There can be no doubt that the Jews of Europe suffered great hardship and genocide under the regime of Adolf Hitler and his allies during World War II. Nazi concentration camp survivors were able to settle throughout the world and eventually founded the nation of Israel. But the Holocaust survivors in this country are still suffering with an estimated 150,000 age 65+ living below the poverty line.

In response, the Obama administration last week approved $12 million in aid over the next five years to assist these survivors. This was part of an initiative backed by Vice President Joe Biden in 2013. Last year, the White House named Aviva Sufian as a special envoy for U.S. Holocaust survivor services.

Many European countries have paid victims of the Holocaust; at the top of the list is Germany, which paid over $90 billion in reparations. In 2012, Germany gave an estimated 80,000 survivors in other countries a one-time payment of $3,250.

This is not the first time America has paid restitution or reparations to the survivors of racial atrocities. In 1998, the United States pledged to pay $1.25 billion to Japanese-Americans and their heirs. That amount is in addition to the $1.65 billion previously paid out to 81,278 claimants.

But when it comes to the United States paying reparations to Blacks who suffered oppression and genocide, there is no money forthcoming. Taking aside the argument that descendants of former slaves of the United States are more than deserving of economic justice, what about the 20th century Black Holocaust? There are, in fact, incidents where many of the survivors are still living:

  • The bombing and burning of “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921
  • The burning and lynching of Rosewood, FL 1923
  • Moore’s Ford Bridge Massacre 1947
  • Church burnings that took place from 1954-2015
  • Illegal and unconstitutional arrests of Blacks during the Civil Rights movement
  • Jim Crow laws enacted at the state and local levels and ignored at the federal level
  • The implications of the CIA linked crack epidemic in Black communities
  • Hurricane Katrina victims living below the poverty line

The sad part about these tragedies is that this is just a short list of events that are deserving of restitution. What does it take for restitution or reparations for Blacks in the United States?


Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

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