POMONA : Drive Seeks Reparations for Slaves' Descendants

A fledgling effort to force reparations for the descendants of black slaves brought hundreds of people to a church, even though there is no government support for the undertaking.

A line of people began forming on Monday and on Tuesday moved to the church after organizers ran out of sign-up forms at the home of the Rev. Eugene Jeter. Some were not clear on the concept.

"They said they were giving away a bunch of money," said Elisha Jeffers, 22, who was visiting a friend in the neighborhood and stopped because he was curious. He did not think much of the reparations idea. "It was so long ago. They should have done it at the turn of the century," he said.

"We came down to find out if it was true, because we do want our 40 acres and a mule, too," said Shirron Gayles. "It might be a dry run, but even if it is, we want to be in on it because I'm a taxpayer citizen and so is my family."

Jeter said he hopes to organize a national campaign to have a reparations bill passed, even though Congress never has taken up the issue. He said the paperwork could provide documentation for any future applications. The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People has supported the idea.

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