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THE VIENNA MEETING

The Vienna Meeting was not the first time Africans and African descendants had met to address the globalization of Anti-Black Racism. Pan-African meetings date back as far as 1900 when the first Pan-African Conference was held in London, England. After World War I and through the 1920s, African American scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois organized four Pan-African Congresses held in various sites around Europe. In 1945, the fifth Pan-African Congress, which Du Bois participated in but did not organize, was held in Manchester, England. In 1974 and 1996, the sixth and seventh Pan-African Congresses broke with history and were held on the continent of Africa, in Tanzania and Uganda, respectively. In all of these gatherings, issues of racism, colonialism, the legacy of slavery and the slave trade and Black Diaspora unity were addressed:

[the] exploitation of the continent of Africa and African people ... has driven the engine of capitalism from slavery, colonization to present day globalization. It is ... [the] exploitation of the continent of Africa and African peoples that has resulted in the particular form of anti-Black racism that is pernicious and marginalizes Africans and African descendants socially, economically and politically.

Thus, the Vienna Meeting represented a continuation of those discussions, concerns and issues echoed at previous efforts to bring together Africans and people of African descent.

The Vienna Meeting was called by the Rev. Ihueghian Victor, of the Association for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (AHDA) and Chinedu Ene, of the Petadisis Community Organization. The co-chairs of the conference were Amani Olubanjo Buntu and Sithabile Mathe, both of the Afrikan Youth In Norway. The stated purpose of the meeting was to raise important issues and to seek a consensus about these issues in preparation for the WCAR and beyond. The meeting included a number of presentations on issues confronting Africans and African descendants including:

1. transatlantic slave trade and declaring it a crime against humanity;

2. compensation or reparations for victims of the slave trade, colonialism and present injustices related to racism;

3. lack of overall mention of people of African descent in WCAR preparatory declaration and plan of action documents;

4. action to combat racism;

5. legacy of apartheid, colonization and slavery;

6. migrants, asylum seekers and refugees;

7. education and employment;

8. health and health care;

9. youth; and

10. women.

On the second day of the meeting, a coordinating committee was elected to carry the work of the gathering to the Second World Preparatory Conference held in Geneva at the end of May, 2001. The members of this Committee included Vernellia Randall and Mildred Bahati, both from the United States of America, Eleonora Wiedenroth of Germany, Marian Douglas of Macedonia, Cikiah Thomas of Canada, Mutombo Kanyana of Switzerland and Annie Davies of Nigeria. This committee was specifically charged with drafting a Declaration and Program of Action.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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