A brief history of All For Reparations and Emancipation

The first communication that went into the UN from Mr. Silis Muhammad’s team was a 1503 Petition, in 1992. It was written by a group of attorneys called the National Commission for Reparations. Harriett AbuBakr, Esq. and Mr. Muhammad contributed to the communication. It was submitted by the NGO IHRAAM. The 1503 is a private communication between a group in civil society and a government. It was intended to be a communication with the US Government. After waiting a year for a response, several representatives went to the UN in NY to inquire. The official who met with them said that the communication was not accepted by the committee and therefore not submitted to the US Government. No explanation of why was offered. 

Consequently, Mr. Muhammad asked Ida Hakim to organize a Consultative NGO which would be able to communicate directly with the UN. This status was achieved in 1997. The organization was called CURE (Caucasians United for Reparations and Emancipation.) Within a very short time after receiving status CURE submitted a written statement by Mr. Muhammad to the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. A response came back from the UN very quickly. It was an invitation to attend the UN Working Group on Minorities. Mr. Muhammad, Atty. AbuBakr and Ida Hakim attended the next scheduled session in early 1998. At that meeting Mr. Muhammad’s and Atty. AbuBakr’s statements stirred the Working Group into action. 

How the World Bodies Viewed the Descendants

Mr. Muhammad realized that in the eyes of the UN, the descendants of enslaved Africans did not exist as a people. They were looked upon as having successfully and willingly assimilated into the majority populations in which they exist. This reality brought Mr. Muhammad to tears. “In the eyes of the world, we do not exist!” During the first interventions before the Working Group on Minorities, the Human Rights Experts heard and understood that the descendants wished to be recognized as a people and claim the right to self-determination and reparations. 

In the year 2000 the NGO CURE changed its name to All for Reparations and Emancipation (AFRE). AFRE facilitated the interventions of Mr. Silis Muhammad, Harriett AbuBakr, Esq., QM Dorothy Benton Lewis, Mr. Kalonji Olusegun, Mr. Osiris Akkebala and a number of others before various UN bodies from 1998 forward. These journeys to the UN took place more than 30 times, communicating with various UN working groups, commissions, conferences and forums. 

Interventions were brought to the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Commission on Human Rights, and the World Conference Against Racism, with Mr. Muhammad reporting that there did exist a people who were denied and deprived of their language, culture, religion, family legacy – their human right to an identity. His interventions were focused on the human rights of minorities articulated in Article 27 of the ICCPR and the crimes of ethnocide and forced assimilation.

The Request for a Forum

In Mr. Muhammad’s first statement to the Working Group on Minorities he made a request for a forum at which leaders could meet together and discuss their identity. The experts heard his request and took steps to assist by organizing forums bringing together all of the NGOs representing the descendants across the Region of the Americas. These would be representatives of minority populations, descended from enslaved Africans, falling under the mandate of the Working Group, which was the protection of Minorities offered in Article 27 of the ICCPR. The forums took place in Geneva, Honduras, and Peru.

The forum at which an identity for the descendants was discussed and agreed upon took place in Honduras in the year 2002. Black leaders from various countries in South, Central and North America were in attendance. From the first meeting forward, Mr. Muhammad suggested to the group that there needed to be an identity established and a definition written. He offered the name “Lost-Found Peoples.” The leaders expressed that they were already accustomed to using Afrodescendant to represent the collective. The terms Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Colombian, Afro-Cuban and so forth were used to identify the descendants in various countries and Afrodescendant was used when the descendants were spoken of collectively. Since the majority preferred this term, Mr. Muhammad respected their view and gave it thought.

Toward the end of the week Mr. Muhammad and Atty. AbuBakr wrote a draft definition of the term Afrodescendants, indicating acceptance of the term. It was welcomed and discussed.  The leaders planned to meet again and continue discussion of the definition. The next meeting took place in Peru in 2005, at which further discussion took place. Once again, the leaders did not come to a decision and finalize the definition. They wished to continue discussion at the next meeting. In 2006 the UN reorganized under pressure from the US, and all three bodies assisting Afrodescendants were eliminated, replaced by a Human Rights Council. There were no further forums and the definition remains a working definition. 

UN Recognition of Afrodescendants

In its agenda in 2004 the Working Group on Minorities recognized the term Afrodescendants. They also asked AFRE to write an expert paper on Afrodescendants which would become an official UN document. AFRE did write this paper. It was accepted by the Working Group and the experts made it a Conference Room Paper for the final session of the Sub-Commission in 2006, prior to the reorganization. The document is entitled “A Regional Perspective on Afrodescendant Quality of Life,” document # A/HRC/Sub.1/58/AC.5/CRP.1 * 8 August 2006. 

Afrodescendants throughout the slavery diaspora have lost their connection to their mother tongue, culture, religion, family lineage and history. They were left without a human identity. Among the many horrors of trans-generational enslavement is the forced transition of human to slave. This destruction of humanity constitutes the crimes of ethnocide and forced assimilation and the damage lingers today. Unity has been challenging, and yet the desire is strong to speak with one voice. Self determination requires organization, a democratic plebiscite and a shared identity. For the first time this seems a possibility. 


The term Afrodescendants refers to a people who:

  1. Were forcibly disposed of their homeland, Africa;
  2. Were transported to the Americas and Slavery Diaspora for the purpose of enslavement;
  3. Were subjected to slavery; 
  4. Were subjected to forced mixed breeding and rape;
  5. Have experienced, through force, the loss of mother tongue, culture and religion;
  6. And/or have experienced racial discrimination due to lost ties or partially lost ties from their original identity.

Representing Afrodescendants from the US

AFRE facilitated the interventions of Mr. Silis Muhammad and a number of other leaders at various events. These leaders attended UN conferences, forums, working groups and seminars. Some delegates began to lobby at conferences in the early 1990s. Others have presented written statements or have attended conferences to observe, but have not spoken. Below is an abbreviated list indicating only the conferences at which delegates have spoken since 1998.

Mr. Silis Muhammad representing All For Reparations and Emancipation (AFRE)

  • Working Group on Minorities
  • Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
  • Commission on Human Rights
  • World Conference Against Racism, Plenary Session
  • Afrodescendant Seminars in Geneva, Switzerland; La Ceiba, Honduras; Montreal, Canada; Chincha, Peru
  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Atty. Harriett AbuBakr Muhammad representing AFRE and the National Commission for Reparations (NCR)

  • Working Group on Minorities
  • World Conference Against Racism
  • Afrodescendant Seminars in Geneva, Switzerland; La Ceiba, Honduras; *Chincha, Peru
  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Ajani Mukarram representing AFRE

  • Millennium Forum
  • World Conference Preparatory Conference in Santiago, Chile
  • Afrodescendant Seminar in Montreal, Canada

Ishmael Abdul-Salaam representing AFRE

  • Millennium Forum
  • Working Group on Minorities

Ida Hakim-Lawrence representing AFRE

  • Working Group on Minorities
  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Maia Hadi representing National Commission for Reparations

  • Working Group on Minorities
  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Raushana Karriem representing National Commission for Reparations

  • Working Group on Minorities
  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Cheryl Kyle Sharrief representing California Black Chamber of Commerce

  • Working Group on Minorities

Ana Leurinda representing Afro-Indigenous Solidarity Movement

  • Commission on Human Rights (alternate)
  • Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (alternate)

Dorothy Lewis representing National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA)

  • Working Group on Minorities
  • World Conference Against Racism
  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Kalonji Olusegun representing N’COBRA

  • Working Group on Minorities

Chief Elder Osiris Akkebala representing Pan Afrikan International Movement

  • Working Group on People of African Descent

Rosemary Emodi representing Black Lawyers Association of the UK

  • Working Group on People of African Descent

AFRE Internet Presence 

Alia Mansoor served as website creator, designer and webmaster for AFRE from 1997 to 2003. Hugh Esco is the current creator, designer and webmaster.

Hasan Shaheed has provided artwork and professional design services for AFRE on both websites.