Tuesday, August 4, 2020
In 1865, nearing the end of the Civil War, thousands of formerly enslaved people were promised 40 acres and, eventually, a mule. This was likely the first attempt in American history at reparations for Black Americans. It never came to pass.
After Lincoln’s assassination, the order was quashed by President Andrew Johnson and the land was returned to the former slave owners.
Despite being a contentious topic today, reparations are not unprecedented in the United States: land and benefits have been given to Native Americans and Japanese Americans were given a formal apology and compensation after being placed in internment camps during World War II.
After nearly 250 years of slavery and 90 years of Jim Crow, why haven’t African Americans received significant reparations?
In 2020, as the pandemic is killing Black Americans disproportionately and ongoing protests amid the police killing of George Floyd are bringing racial justice to the forefront of the national conversation, we speak to one of the nation’s leading scholars on the call for reparations.
Dr. William A. Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and co-author of "From Here To Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century"