BLACK MANIFESTO Formally issued on May 4, 1969 by James Forman, co-chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee between 1964-66, the "Black Manifesto" was a reflection of the conclusion reached at the National Black Economic Development Conference held in Detroit in 1968. The "Manifesto" demanded that African-Americans be paid "reparations" by the white religious establishment for its alleged complicity in the historical subjugation of the black race.
The preamble of the "Black Manifesto" charged that black Americans historically had been "victimized by the most vicious, racist system in the world." The preamble went on to demand "of the white Christian churches and Jewish synagogues which are part and parcel of the system of capitalism, that they begin to pay reparations to black people in this country. We are demanding $500,000,000 from the Christian white churches and the Jewish synagogues. This total comes to fifteen dollars per nigger. This is a low estimate, for we maintain there are probably more than 30,000,000 black people in this country. Fifteen dollars a nigger is not a large sum of money, and we know that the churches and synagogues have a tremendous wealth and its membership, white America, has profited and still exploits black people."
Among other things, it was proposed that the reparations money be used for the creation of a southern land bank, a new black university, a black anti-defamation league and a number of publishing and printing industries to help "generate capital for further cooperative investments in the black community, provide jobs and an alternative to the white-dominated and controlled printing field."
The immediate reaction of the white religious establishment was one of shock and dismay, especially after the five hundred million dollar demand was later increased to three billion dollars. Nevertheless, many church leaders and organizations have since recognized their responsibility to assist African-Americans in their attempt to overcome the severe socioeconomic straitjacket imposed by years of racial discrimination.