The African American Redress Network (AARN) promotes research, advocacy, education and activism for US racial justice and reparations. With federal efforts to develop and enact reparations proposals largely stalled due to a lack of political support, AARN aims to establish a network of solidarity among groups working on redress in localized settings. AARN’s Redress Map identifies, shares background on, and pinpoints the location of redress efforts happening at the grassroots, regional, and state levels. The Redress Map facilitates connections between otherwise disjoint efforts and enables knowledge sharing and joint campaigning. AARN was established through partnerships between Black/African American activist movements and academic institutions, namely Howard University and Columbia University. Half of the organizations involved in AARN are activist organizations, and the other half are academic. AARN relies on the support of volunteers and interns, many of whom are students at Howard and Columbia. Student researchers are critical to AARN’s work in that they provide assistance to local redress efforts, sustain technical assistance partnerships, lead mapping efforts, and maintain communications with AARN members. AARN funding and resources go directly to community members who contribute their time and expertise to the work.
Theory of Change
Supporting local activists through research, information resources, capacity-building, and advocacy strengthens networks for solidarity and leads to reconciliation, restitution, and social justice.
AARN offers tools and support for the Redress Network for directly collaborating on reparation efforts. Network members join AARN organized conferences to exchange strategies and learn from each other about micro-redress efforts. This includes campaigns to combat environmental racism and contribute data to research, such as the hardship index. AARN conducts research jointly with its partners and volunteer organizers to populate the Redress Map on reparation claims. This map includes details about organizations or movements that stewarded cases, their contact information, and other contextual details about the violation or unjust event. Local movements can then reach out to entities based on location or redress typology to gain relevant insights. AARN also curates Reparation Toolkits developed by similar organizations and tailored to different types of redress. AARN curates learned lesson documents on best practices in advocacy and how to build cases for reparations. Based on the input of stakeholders and collaborators, AARN conducted research to identify patterns of successful strategies and prepare modules to be shared. AARN’s methodology includes research across US census regions to identify local reparation redress efforts across history.
AARN has published reports on over 460 sites of systemic redress efforts, spanning eight of the nine U.S. census districts. Drawing on these reports, AARN has shared toolkits with partnering organizations and delivered capacity building, resources, and research to the local movements. Data from the mapping project have defined reparation trends in academic institutions, as a number of universities across the US are examining their historical connections with enslavement, segregation, massacres and historical misrepresentation as a result. Following a reparation strategy session with the Virginia Reparations Coalition, an AARN-organized coalition of several local Virginia-based redress organizations, the Virginian League of Women Voters investigated their historical and current role in discrimination against African-American communities in the state. As a result, they have inaugurated a ten-point reparations strategy.