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Author: Indu Pandey
Date: Fall 2020
From: Harvard International Review(Vol. 41, Issue 4)
Publisher: Harvard International Relations Council, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,270 words
Lexile Measure: 1250L

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Wade Henderson was the President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which was founded as the legislative arm of the civil rights movement. Additionally, Henderson was the head of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP and worked with theACLU.

Can you comment on the role that American anti-racist movements have in international struggles and how our current political moment might contribute to an international reckoning with discrimination, racism, and identity? In order to answer your question properly, I need to provide just a bit of history. You mention that the civil rights movement, and we're really talking about the modern movement of the 20th century, could be seen as a product of the anti-colonial movement in Africa in particular. To a degree, that's true, but I honestly think it's the other way around. The domestic advocacy for civil and human rights by the NAACP beginning at its founding 1909 helped to lay the foundation for the and-colonial activity that followed World War I. The NAACP as an organization was born in fire.

In the 1930s and 1940s, there were real efforts on the part of W. E. B. Du Bois, who had an early stint with the NAACP as the editor of Crisis Magazine, but came back for four years from 1944 to 1948 and helped lead the organization in pushing for anti-colonial activities along with people like Paul Robeson and others. They gave that movement vitality. But, I think in 1948, the NAACP made a judgement that investing in a two-front campaign became a challenge beyond their capability. They devoted themselves really beginning in 1948 or 1950 more exclusively to domestic advocacy.

There has long been a recognition on the part of civil and human rights advocates in this country that we are tied to an international movement of liberation. And often at times we have been in a position to offer leadership and support. The African National Congress, for example, credits the NAACP and its founding, its structure, with some of the advance efforts that have taken place in South Africa. There is clearly, you know, an appreciation even now of the Black Lives Matter Movement. In the aftermath of George Floyd's killing, not only did it explode domestically, but there have been over 4,000 demonstrations globally that have used the Black Lives Matter emblem as an indication of its own involvement. And, yes, it has inspired the people of color citizens of those countries to respond to their own domestic challenges around race. I think the movement has already had broad impact and is consistent with the way that the civil rights movement would have hoped to influence liberation.

Reparations for slavery have seen a resurgence in interest. Given your efforts to secure reparations for Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II, why do you think reparations are justified? What would you say to someone who disagrees?

The issue of reparations for injustices that have been experienced by you or...

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