SACRAMENTO — There is a national petition floating about that is asking Black Americans, whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slavery, to establish a separate state or territory of their own.
The organizers who are pushing the movement say it not about hate, disdain or rebellion. But the formal request is to help African Americans move pass ills that have plagued them since before, during, and after slavery.
For decades there has been various groups seeking reparations from slavery through legislation or litigations with little success. But the Independent Statehood For African Americans is asking that land on U.S. soil or elsewhere be set aside.
“There comes a time when we should say, ‘we gotta do something for ourselves and for our people,’” said Devon Muhammad, who is leading the I.S.A.A. movement here in Sacramento.
“We are a nation within a nation. We are, I believe, No. 33 as far as economics, in the world, as a people. That means we almost out-do another 60 nations. So why is it not in our best interests to have some land and territory.”
Muhammad told the OBSERVER that he is trying to get people in the Sacramento region, the country, and around the world to sign the petition. Signing the petition is not just exclusive for African Americans, Muhammad said.
“This is a movement and we want the support of all people that are fair, just, and think clear of what has happened to our people and grandparents,” he said.
It’s up for discussion, but I.S.A.A is in quest of asking the U.S. government to obligate, “maintain and supply,” the “separate territory for the next 20 to 25 years” until the independents of the territory could flourish on their own.”
The idea of statehood, Muhammad says, comes from Elijah Muhammad’s book “Message to the Black Man.” Contributions to the U.S. and the sufferings African Americans have experienced as slaves and beyond the institution of slavery justifies separation, says Muhammad, the late leader of the Nation of Islam.
I.S.A.A’s benchmark at the moment is to sign up 1,900 people, immediately, over the age of 18. Muhammad and his mother, Debra “Sanau” Ms. Barnes, have been using a word-of-mouth strategy and a website to garner support for the effort.
“I want to stress the fact that (seeking petitioners) is not entertainment,” Ms. Barnes said.
“So we don’t necessarily have to have events. This day and age we have to go with social media because it’s accessible. When we campaign and petition we are serious about what we are doing. This promotion is ongoing. We want everyone to get information and gain knowledge in signing the petition,” she added.
“Statehood would be a way of correcting some of the vices and economic situations African Americans are faced with today,” said Muhammad.
“Incarceration, poverty, unemployment, under-employment, drug addiction and lack of a quality education continue to hold back the Black community,” he added.
Ms. Barnes and Muhammad did recite the fact that when the government issued Executive Order 9066, (which placed people of Japanese descent into internment camps during World War II,) it later apologized for the inhumane act.
An appropriations bill was later authorized in the early 1990s to repay surviving members of the internees along with a letter of apology to Japanese Americans.
About $20,000 in redress payments were later given to each survivor. African Americans have been waiting for more than 150 years to receiving something similar to Japanese Americans, Ms. Barnes and Muhammad stated.
“We are starting with a petition,” Ms. Barnes said. “But we are hoping that we have a caucus to iron everything out of how it’s gonna be, how it should be, and how (statehood) benefits us.”
For more information about Independent Statehood For African Americans and the petition, visit www.ourexodus.info.
By Antonio Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer