A civil rights veteran who went viral for denouncing reparations on “Dr. Phil” accused backers of reparations of trying to gain support for the 2024 presidential race.
“My most cynical self says that this is more about the elections of 2024 than it’s about reparations from 1619,” Robert Woodson, the founder and president of the Woodson Center, told Fox News Digital.
The call for reparations has gained steam across the United States, as local, state, and federal officials are considering creating programs to give payments to qualifying Black Americans in an attempt to address America’s dark history of slavery.
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Despite polls showing that reparations remain unpopular, Democratic lawmakers introduced a resolution calling for $14 trillion in reparations and California’s reparations task force recommended $1.2 million in payments to each qualified Black American.
“It’s a ploy,” Woodson said. “It’s just keeping us all at each other’s throats, and it’s being used cynically by people who really are trying to undermine the fundamental values of this nation.”
“With the president’s numbers declining, they have to do something to keep the Black community in line and race is a sure strategy because when somebody is in a constant state of grievance and agitation, they’re much easier to control,” he said.
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He accused the reparations movement of misusing “the rich legacy of the civil rights movement” and being driven by “guilty Whites” who “are seeking absolution for crimes they never committed.”
In his interview on “Dr. Phil” that garnered millions of views last month, Woodson slammed reparations, pointing out that free African-Americans also owned slaves.
“It’s much more complex than all White people were the oppressors and Black people were the victims,” he said. “If you dissect it, you will find there were about 3,703 Blacks who owned 12,000 slaves—Black slaves.”
“The question is, Do the descendants of those free Blacks who owned Black slaves, do they pay?” he asked.
Woodson told Fox News Digital that reparations are a major “distraction” and a “waste of time and energy.”
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“In order to solve a problem, you’ve got to properly diagnose, and reparations is no answer for the challenges facing large numbers of Blacks in these cities,” he said. “It is lethal to continue to direct attention away from the critical problems and challenges facing Blacks.”
“More Blacks are killed in one year by other Blacks than were killed in the 40 years by the [Ku Klux] Klan,” Woodson added. “So tell me how reparations could address that critical crisis.”
Woodson said that disseminating large sums of money to descendants of slaves would not improve their lives, drawing a comparison to winners of the lottery.
“What has it meant in their lives?” he asked. “Seventy to 80% of them said they wish they had never gotten it because any time you separate work from income, it has a disastrous effect on the recipients.”
Woodson also said that he doesn’t think reparations could work logistically because of the difficulty of accurately tracing family ancestry.
“Some people can’t even tell who their fathers are today, let alone trace their ancestors back,” he said. “The time and energy that we can spend tracing our history ought to be spent in mending the healing wounds that are in our own community.”
“They’re doing this using social justice for Blacks as the bait, and then they really turn on the very values that enabled black America to achieve Black America,” Woodson added. “The great story in Black America isn’t that we suffered under slavery and Jim Crow, it is how we achieved great successes in the face of that oppression.”
A 2021 poll found nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose reparations. Woodson said he did not find this surprising.
“Most Americans are sensible, they know that it’s a ridiculous idea,” he said. “They know that somebody is using a false solution that has no answer because they can keep people in a state of agitation, grievance and anger.”
Click here to hear more about Woodson’s take on reparations.