The Case for Reparations

Slavery was the foundation of the U.S. economy and wealth.

“By 1860, there were more millionaires (slaveholders all) living in the lower Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the United States. In the same year, the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined. So, of course, the war was rooted in these two expanding and competing economies—but competing over what? What eventually tore asunder America's political culture was slavery's expansion into the Western territories.” – David Blight

The U.S. government has never fully accounted for the human rights violations of enslavement, thousands of lynchings, Black Code laws, Jim Crow segregation, the predatory practices of redlining, contract buying, block busting, or mass incarceration.

Black Americans have experienced 246 years of slavery compared to 156 of “freedom.” It is time for the U.S. to take action to repair the harms of slavery and its aftermath.

The inequities that communities of color experience today exist because the seeds of inequity were planted years ago.

Jen Ford Reedy and Edgar Villanueva

Won't reparations divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say - that American prosperity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.

Ta-Nehisi Coates
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