Slaveowners Got Reparations For Financial Loss After Emancipation. Enslaved African-Americans Got Nothing
White Americans opposed to paying reparations to descendants of slaves might not realize their ancestors received them after their slaves were freed. Slaveowners Got Reparations For Financial Loss After Emancipation. Enslaved African-Americans Got Nothing
According to Hunter, the largest individual payout under the act was $18,000 for 69 slaves. In other cases, slaveowners petitioned state, local and colonial governments for compensation when their “property” was lost or stolen.
Hunter also cites the examples of France forcing Haiti to pay them for decades after Haiti’s successful slave rebellion that landed the island nation into decades of debt it still has yet to rebound from; and England paying slaveholders in Caribbean colonies approximately $26.2 million when it abolished slavery.
“That’s right, slaveowners got reparations. Enslaved African-Americans got nothing for their generations of stolen bodies, snatched children and expropriated labor other than their mere release from legal bondage,” Hunter wrote.
The Thorny History of Reparations In The United States
If what’s mentioned below is true than obviously we have more than enough money for reprations!
3-23-20 Federal Reserve Vowed “Unlimited” Money-Printing Capability!
In the 20th century, the country issued reparations for Japanese American internment, Native land seizures, massacres and police brutality. Will slavery be next?
The papers were handed out one by one to the elderly recipients—most frail, some in wheelchairs. To some, it may have looked like a run-of-the-mill governmental ceremony with the usual federal fanfare. But to Norman Mineta, a California congressman and future Secretary of Transportation, the 1990 event was deeply symbolic.
The papers were checks for $20,000, accompanied by a letter of apology for the internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. They were the first issued under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, a historic law that offered monetary redress to over 80,000 people.
Mineta had spearheaded the law, fighting for a government apology and financial redress for nearly a decade. As he watched, he flashed back to his own internment during the war, first at a racetrack, then at Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in Wyoming. His family had been forced to leave their home and business behind.
Now, Mineta felt, the government had finally begun the process of reconciliation. “The country made a mistake, and admitted it was wrong,” he says. “It offered an apology and a redress payment. To me, the beauty and strength of this country is that it is able to admit wrong and issue redress.”
Today, the law is remembered as the most successful push for reparations for a historic wrong in U.S. history. But the United States’ track record of reparations and official apologies is scattershot—and it has yet to tackle one of its most glaring injustices—the enslavement of African Americans. Many argue that slavery in America has legacies that continue to shape society today.
Though demands for apologies and financial restitution are not new, reparations for a state’s behavior toward its citizens are relatively modern. The idea of a state apologizing for, much less paying for, its actions toward its own citizens was almost unthinkable until Nazi Germany orchestrated a large-scale genocide. About 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and for the first time the world grappled with how to make a nation pay money to atone for a historical injustice.
“There was the sense that Germans had done something very bad and needed to make amends,” says historian John Torpey, a professor at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and the author of Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: On Reparations Politics. “That was the price of admission for a return to the community of civilized nations.” Germany has since paid hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel, individual Holocaust survivors, and others.
Since then, the United States has followed suit. But though it has paid reparations to some groups it wronged through unjust treaties, coups and brutal experiments, others who still contend with the ramifications of historic injustices continue to wait for compensation.
Native American Reparations: Belated Payment for Unjustly Seized Land
President Harry S. Truman Signing A Bill Providing For The Establishment Of The Indian Claims Commission.
World War II sparked a movement to address one of the United States’ historic wrongs: its treatment of Native Americans over centuries of conquest and colonization. Native Americans enlisted in World War II in disproportionately high numbers: 44,000, or nearly 13 percent of the entire population of Native Americans at the time, served as code talkers who stumped the enemy with their tribal languages and brave service members who fought in the European and Pacific theaters of war. After World War II, momentum to compensate tribes for the unjust seizure of their lands grew.
In 1946, Congress created the Indian Claims Commission, a body designed to hear historic grievances and compensate tribes for lost territories. It commissioned extensive historical research and ended up awarding about $1.3 billion to 176 tribes and bands. The money was largely given to groups, which then distributed the money among their members. For some tribes whose members didn’t live on a reservation, note historians Michael Lieder and Jake Page, the money was distributed per capita. For those who did live on reservations, the money was often earmarked for tribal projects.
However, the actual funds only averaged out to about $1,000 per person of Native American ancestry, and most of the money was put in trust accounts held by the United States government, which has been accused of mismanagement over the years. “Gambling has had a more positive impact on the quality of life on reservations than did the Indian Claims Commission Act,” Lieder and Page write.
And it took decades for a formal apology. Tucked inside a defense spending bill, the United States apologized for what it characterized as the “many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States” in 2009.
Native Hawaiian Reparations: Land Leases For The Overthrow of A Kingdom
A Portrait Of Lili’uokalani, Who Was The Queen Of Hawaii, In Honolulu, 1917.
Beginning in 1893, Native Hawaiians’ extensive land holdings were taken by the federal government in the wake of its overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. The loss of lands had actually begun earlier: As white businesses flocked to Hawaii in the late 19th century, they bought up huge swaths of land and established plantations. As low-paid workers flocked to the island, Native Hawaiians began living in crowded cities and dying of diseases for which they had no immunities.
As a result, Native Hawaiians nearly died out. In 1920, there were an estimated 22,600 Native Hawaiians left, compared to nearly 690,000 in 1778, when Europeans first made contact with the islands.
In 1917, lands leased from Native Hawaiians by large sugar and ranching companies began to come up for renewal. John Wise, a Native Hawaiian who was the territory’s Senator, joined with Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, a prince before the United States seized Hawaii, to argue that those lands should be set aside for Native Hawaiians.
The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 established a land trust for Native Hawaiians and allowed people of one half Hawaiian ancestry by blood to lease homesteads from the federal government for 99 years at a time for a total of $1.
“Although the act was seen as helping a declining race,” writes historian J. Kehaulani Kauanui, “it was sharply limited in its potential for rehabilitating Hawaiians.”
Much of the land was remote and unfit for development, and it put people who married non-Native Hawaiians at risk of losing their land. Today, those problems persist. Though the Native Hawaiian population has surged, there remains a long waiting list for homestead lands, and families that inherit homesteads must prove their 50 percent Hawaiian descent to keep them. The United States only apologized for its treatment of Native Hawaiians in 1993, a century after the overthrow.
Tuskegee Experiment Reparations: Compensation for Medical Brutality
Participants In The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments.
In some cases, federal and state governments have made payments to people harmed by brutality. In 1973, for example, the U.S. began an attempt at reconciliation for the Tuskegee Experiments, in which 600 black men were unknowingly left untreated for syphilis after being misled by officials who involuntarily enrolled them in a “treatment program.”
The existence of the experiment, and its horrifying extent, only became clear after Jean Heller, an investigative reporter for the Associated Press, wrote a story on the study and its effects. After a class-action lawsuit, the men were awarded $10 million and the United States promised to provide healthcare and burial services for the men. Eventually, the state ended up awarding healthcare and other services to the men’s spouses and descendants, too.
It took decades, though, for a presidential apology for the Tuskegee Experiment. In 1997, President Clinton called its victims “hundreds of men betrayed” and apologized on behalf of the United States. But financial compensation was cold comfort to more than the study’s victims. Decades later, the experiment is correlated with increases in mistrust of the medical establishment, overall mortality and reluctance to see medical providers among black men, who face significant health disparities compared to their white counterparts in the United States. “No scientific experiment inflicted more damage on the collective psyche of black Americans than the Tuskegee Study,” writes historian James H. Jones.
Cities and states, rather than the federal government, have led the way in financial compensation for most other cases of brutality. Take Florida, where lawmakers passed a bill that paid $2.1 million in reparations to survivors of the Rosewood Massacre, a 1923 incident in which a majority-black Florida town was destroyed by racist mobs. Or Chicago, which created a $5.5 million reparations fund for survivors of police brutality aimed at black men during the 1970s and 1980s.
People of Japanese Descent: Reparations for Internment During World War II
People Of Japanese Descent: Reparations For Internment During World War II
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 Congressman Mineta spearheaded was a watershed moment for survivors of historical injustices. Though the United States did allow internees to file claims for damages or property loss after World War II, it had never paid reparations. That changed after the bill, which apologized for Japanese American internment and granted $20,000 to every survivor.
But despite strong grassroots support at the outset for the bill, notes Mineta, officials were wary of paying survivors. They opposed the bill despite the recommendations of a government-appointed commission that considered testimony from over 750 witnesses and concluded that internment was the result of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership,” not military necessity.
“So very few people even knew about the evacuation and internment,” says Mineta. When he appealed for action, his fellow lawmakers would ask “This happened over 40 years ago. Why should we keep talking about it?”
In response, Mineta asked if they would willingly confine themselves behind bars for the duration of World War II for any amount of money. “Most people would say absolutely not,” he recalls.
After nearly a decade of Congressional roadblocks, the bill finally passed. Ronald Reagan agreed to sign the law after being reminded of a wartime speech he had given in recognition of Kazuo Masuda, a Japanese American war hero.
London Banks Urged To Pay Reparations For Historical Slavery Links
Black Lives Matter campaign triggers new calls for London financial institutions to pay for past ties to slave trade.
The Black Lives Matter movement is reinvigorating a yearslong campaign to push some of London’s oldest financial institutions to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves.
City of London companies played an important role for centuries in organizing and funding the trans-Atlantic passage of African slaves and the Caribbean and American plantations where they were forced to work. Directors of the companies earned fortunes from the trade. The Bank of England, Barclays BCS -1.66% PLC and Lloyd’s of London insurance market are among those to apologize for or acknowledge links to slavery since the May killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis prompted protests world-wide.
“Britain was the most efficient and profitable slave trader in terms of return on capital largely because of the role of the City of London in providing cheaper finance, better insurance rates, better reinsurance rates and, critically, funding the construction of the shipping industry,” Hilary Beckles, chairman of a reparations commission representing Jamaica, Barbados and 10 other Caribbean nations, said in an interview.
Mr. Floyd’s death has sparked renewed calls from Caribbean governments and from Black British campaigners descended from slaves for British companies to pay reparations. They say apologizing isn’t enough and are calling for more discussion about reparations. Companies are so far resisting those calls, choosing to focus on improving workplace diversity.
On July 6, the Caricom Reparations Commission, chaired by Mr. Beckles, called for British companies to participate in a summit to discuss how they can contribute to the Caribbean.
“The City of London as we know it now would not have been without the slave trade,” Mr. Beckles said. “We are calling for a dialogue in which we say from our point of view this is what we think would be an appropriate attempt at remedy. In the case of the financial institutions of London we are looking for a development strategy.”
The City of London Corp., a centuries-old council which manages the financial district, declined to comment on whether it would participate in a reparations summit, as did spokesmen for the Bank of England, Barclays, Lloyd’s of London, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, Lloyds Banking Group PLC and law firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Farrer & Co. They have all acknowledged historic links to slavery.
British politicians have long resisted discussions on the issue. Speaking to Jamaica’s Parliament in 2015 on the most-recent official Caribbean visit by a prime minister, David Cameron emphasized Britain’s role in ending the slave trade. “I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy,” Mr. Cameron said.
“Finance could be the best healer,” Darrel Blake, a former banker who leads a slave-trade money trail tour through London’s financial district, said on a June 20 tour.
The Bank of England said it wasn’t directly involved in the slave trade but “is aware of some inexcusable connections involving former governors and directors and apologizes for them,” a spokeswoman said.
Lloyd’s of London, the insurance market founded in the 1680s, said it was sorry for its role in the trade.
“This was an appalling and shameful period of British history, as well as our own, and we condemn the indefensible wrongdoing that occurred during this period,” a spokesman said.
A Barclays spokesman said the bank is “committed to do more to further foster our culture of inclusiveness, equality and diversity, for our colleagues, and the customers and clients we serve.”
Mr. Beckles said commitments to improve diversity are a public-relations stunt. “That is not a sincere effort to participate in reparatory justice,” he said. “We are talking about the damage and the harm done to millions of people and the death of millions of people.”
Last year he brokered a £20 million ($25 million) reparations agreement with Scotland’s University of Glasgow, which benefited from slavery. The university is raising the money mainly through grants and donations to work with the University of the West Indies on research projects to improve health care and economic development in the Caribbean. The agreement is a model for companies to follow but no such conversations have started, Mr. Beckles said.
“We are happy to share our experience,” David Duncan, the University of Glasgow’s chief operating officer, said in an interview.
That agreement has set a precedent that makes companies wary, said Malik Al Nasir, a British citizen who has researched his family history and found he’s descended from slaves and slave traders in Guyana.
“Companies know that there is liability here,” Mr. Al Nasir said in an interview. He wants the United Nations to lead a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate and quantify slavery reparations. U.K. lawmaker Layla Moran has written to companies with links to slavery and asked them to do more.
Calls for reparations for slavery are also increasing in the U.S. in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s killing, according to Ana Lucia Araujo, a Howard University professor who studies slavery. A bill embracing the idea was first introduced in Congress in 1989 but the issue of reparations has languished for decades.
The British government abolished slavery in the 1830s, paying £20 million—the equivalent of billions of dollars today—to compensate slave owners because they were deemed to have lost property. Beneficiaries are listed on a University College London website.
The government finished repaying debt used to fund the compensation payments in 2015. Compensating slave owners was unjust according to Mr. Blake, whose ancestors, like those of Mr. Beckles, were slaves.
“My taxes have gone back to the government to replace the money that was given to the slave masters that owned my family,” said Mr. Blake, who worked at Barclays and HSBC Holdings PLC before becoming a teacher. “How ridiculous is that?”
Reparations To Black Americans For Slavery Gain New Attention
The House looks to approve for the first time a commission to study compensating for slavery and longtime discrimination.
Weeks of racial-justice protests are pushing the concept of reparations for Black Americans from the political margins toward the center of the national debate, with policy makers from Capitol Hill to city halls weighing compensation plans for slavery and longtime discrimination.
In Washington, House leaders say they expect to pass this year for the first time a three-decade-old proposal creating a federal commission to craft an official government apology and remedy plan. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has endorsed the bill, the first major party leader to do so since Congress initially took it up in 1989.
The legislation faces opposition from Republicans who control the Senate. President Trump last year told a reporter “I don’t see it happening.” So the measure is unlikely to become law this year. A Democratic sweep in November elections, however, could pave the way for enactment.
A formal commission would only study the issue. Adopting a concrete national compensation plan faces long odds, with polls showing white voters still strongly opposed. Supporters remain divided over whom to compensate, how to do it and what is being compensated for.
The reparations debate is a symbol of how far Americans have moved since the late-May killing of George Floyd in their willingness to re-examine persisting racial discrimination in everything from law enforcement and wealth to health care and education.
“Before, when you talked about reparations, people would roll their eyes,” says Louisville, Ky., Mayor Greg Fischer, a recent convert on the issue, whose city has been rocked by protests over the March police killing there of Breonna Taylor. “Now it’s more ‘tell me how that can get done.’ ” As the new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, he steered the group last month to endorse the federal reparations bill, with support from Democratic and Republican members.
The California Assembly passed a bill, now before the state Senate, creating its own version of a reparations study commission. The city council of mostly white Asheville, N.C., this month voted to apologize for slavery and offer funding to help Black homeowners and businesses, following a similar measure last year in Evanston, Ill. The American Civil Liberties Union, long silent on the issue, has made it a top legislative priority.
Surveys show big increases in the number of Americans who believe that Black people face discrimination and who support the Black Lives Matter movement, including changes such as overhauling policing and removing Confederate monuments.
Beyond that, multiple surveys taken in the past month show that large majorities still say they oppose reparations. A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted July 12-15 found 63% of those questioned said they opposed payments “as compensation for…slavery.” While 82% of Black respondents were in favor, just 18% of whites were.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said as the debate was escalating last year. He said the Civil War, civil rights legislation and the election of Barack Obama as the first Black president were sufficient responses to “our original sin of slavery.”
“We’re making really important steps, but it hasn’t cracked open yet,” says Melina Abdullah, professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter in the city. “We’d probably get a majority of white Americans to say ‘chattel slavery was wrong and we apologize.’ But reparations is something tangible, and that still gets hemming and hawing.”
Lawmakers in congressional swing districts remain nervous about the issue. Of the 43 House Democrats who captured GOP-held seats in 2018, just three have co-sponsored the reparations bill. None of the four Black freshmen in those districts has done so.
Some white supporters of the federal reparations commission say they are ambivalent about taking action beyond a study. “It’s great to be thinking about it,” says Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer, a co-sponsor of the bill. “But I don’t think the commission commits itself to reparations in the final analysis.”
Most advocates say reparations should include an official federal apology, not just for slavery but for the long period of government-sanctioned discrimination that followed, and that many say persists to this day. Most also say it should include some form of monetary remedy, but consensus frays there.
Some supporters believe reparations should include federal checks to individuals. Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television and the first Black American billionaire, recently issued a $14 trillion reparations framework that would give 40 million Black Americans direct payments of about $350,000 each—spread out over a decade or longer. He estimates the sum would close the wealth gap between the average Black and white households.
Mr. Johnson believes compensation should be limited to those who can trace their lineage to slaves. That would exclude about six million Black Americans whose families, or who themselves, came to the U.S. post-Civil War.
Duke University economist William A. Darity Jr., a leading reparations scholar, agrees. He says slavery descendants have the strongest claim on compensation, due to the government’s broken promise to compensate freed slaves at the end of the Civil War.
Mr. Darity’s book “From Here to Equality” published this spring argues that the federal government must belatedly fulfill that pledge. It also reviews the wide range of other reparations options floated over the years, such as one to tax companies proven to have benefited from slave labor—akin to “superfund” cleanup sites paid for by polluters.
Mr. Darity says the fact that the congressional legislation doesn’t commit to limiting reparations to slavery descendants, among other reasons, has prompted him to oppose the measure in its current form.
That position conflicts with leading advocates like the National African American Reparations Commission, an organization launched in 2015 that has worked closely with lawmakers to help shape the bill.
“To say the only people eligible have to prove it with some DNA testing is ridiculous on the face of it,” says Ron Daniels, a founder of the group and a longtime advocate who promoted reparations in his third-party 1992 presidential campaign. He says most Black Americans have suffered from the legacy of slavery and discrimination, and they deserve benefits.
Some see reparations as taking the form of greater federal spending in Black communities, to improve school systems, health care and the like. “When you start talking about reparations in terms of monetary issues, then you lose me, because nobody can put a value on…the loss of these freedoms,” South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said in a recent radio interview.
A supporter of the reparations commission, the Black lawmaker says that “a better way to deal with what reparations is supposed to be about” is his legislation earmarking 10% of the federal budget for communities with persistently high poverty rates.
The modern reparations movement emerged in the 1980s, as Congress approved an apology and compensation plan for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. The year after President Reagan signed that measure in 1988, Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers introduced legislation seeking similar redress for Black Americans, and reintroduced it every congressional session until his 2017 resignation. The proposal languished most of that time. Some activists say ambivalence toward reparations from Mr. Obama, the first Black president, damped support.
The issue gained traction a few years ago, amid the growing influence of Black Lives Matter. While the group has mainly advocated for police reforms, an alliance of activists affiliated with the movement also adopted reparations as a core plank in its policy platform in 2016. When Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee picked up the mantle from Mr. Conyers to reintroduce his bill in 2019, it quickly drew support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).
The pandemic has given further momentum. Beyond the disproportionate health and economic impact of the coronavirus on communities of color, the multi-trillion-dollar relief packages passed swiftly by Congress have shifted the terms of the debate over what is feasible for spending programs for distressed Americans.
“If you can write a $2 trillion check to small business suffering from a pandemic, you can damn sure have a conversation about reparations,” says Ron Busby Sr., president of U.S. Black Chambers Inc., a Black business advocacy group. “It’s on the table now. It’s a real conversation.”
What It Actually Means To Pass Local ‘Reparations’
As more U.S. cities consider plans to compensate Black Americans for past wrongs, Evanston and Asheville offer two divergent models.
A few days after the city of Evanston, Illinois, passed a resolution to offer reparations to Black families, Duke University economics professor William Darity Jr. penned an op-ed for The Washington Post arguing that the program should not be classified as “reparations.”
“That’s a good step for the city to take, but let’s be clear: This is a housing voucher program, not reparations — and calling it that does more harm than good,” wrote Darity along with North Carolina-based A. Kirsten Mullen, co-author of their book From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.
Brookings Institution scholars Rashawn Ray and Andre Perry snapped back with anotherWashington Post op-ed saying that Evanston’s program, while not the complete package, is a form of reparations.
“In the case of Evanston, the housing grant program is directly linked to the past wrong of housing discrimination for impacted Black people,” they wrote. “Homeownership is important because it is the most common way in America to build wealth. For reparations to close the racial wealth gap, some form of housing subsidy must be included.”
The debate spilled onto Twitter where Darity responded that Evanston’s program is a “detour” from proper reparations.
No, it’s a detour. No initiative you list singly or collectively will eliminate the racial wealth gap, which must be the primary target of a reparations plan. It’s deceptive to the Evanston plan and others like it are on a path to true reparations. https://t.co/Xt2aLbvDw0
— Sandy Darity, Retweets do not mean endorsement. (@SandyDarity) April 2, 2021
For Darity, who’s studied reparations and the racial wealth gap for years, the kind of “piecemeal” reparations scheme created by Evanston will blunt the momentum for the more comprehensive, robust reparations that Black Americans in general need, which Darity says should be funded by the federal government. The question is a consequential one, as a number of other cities are also considering local reparations initiatives.
Asheville, North Carolina, was among the first to take action. Last summer, the city passed a “community reparations” model, where instead of making payments to families, the city will look for ways to shore up its investments in Black neighborhoods.
Several other cities now are exploring their own initiatives, including Chicago; New York City; St. Paul; Durham, North Carolina; Rochester, New York; Athens, Georgia; and the state of Illinois. Depending on these proposals’ outcomes, they could lay the groundwork for a national reparations commission, as requested in H.R. 40, the federal reparations bill that moved closer to a House vote on Wednesday after languishing in Congress for decades.
Reparations in the U.S. have conventionally been defined as the idea that Black Americans should be compensated for the wrongs of slavery and racial discrimination — an idea once embraced almost exclusively by members of the Black radical Left.
As the term has become mainstream, it’s important to probe: Do these municipal programs actually constitute reparations as opposed to, in Evanston’s case, housing assistance, or, in Asheville’s case, part of the divest/invest strategy that many other cities are pursuing?
It’s also debatable whether cities are the best venue for staging reparations in the U.S., given their limited budgets and policy scopes. The programs in Evanston and Asheville are still in their infancy, with neither involving state or federal government resources, which have long been the main targets of reparations campaigns.
Evanston and Asheville focus on areas where the local governments have actually done damage themselves, and where they have some measure of power to act.
A closer look at the inaugural municipal reparations initiatives offer two different models for righting wrongs at the local level.
Chicago is known for having innovated, possibly “perfected,” housing discrimination against Black people. Millions of African Americans who wound up in Chicago from the Deep South in the mid-20th century found themselves deposited in a few rank ghettoes of the city’s South Side, where predatory banks zapped their savings and left them with little to no equity.
Fortunately for some Black migrants, the small city of Evanston, just north of Chicago, happened to be one of the few suburbs in the U.S. that was willing to take in African Americans — wealthy white Evanston residents needed Black servants and laborers.
Unfortunately, the living situation for Black families in Evanston was similar to Chicago: Forbidden from living in white neighborhoods, they were bound to live within a small section of the city’s Fifth Ward in the west end, where their incomes and savings were eaten up by rapacious housing contracts and prohibitively high interest loans.
Today, most of the city’s Black population still live in that same section, a result of the decades of local ordinances that made it difficult to rent or buy a home anywhere else in the city. That’s why why the reparations bill that Evanston finalized in March focuses on redress for housing discrimination. The reparations come in the form of housing grants for Black homeowners or those looking to buy a home.
“The strongest case for reparations by the City of Evanston is in the area of housing, where there is sufficient evidence showing the City’s part in housing discrimination as a result of early City zoning ordinances in place between 1919 and 1969, when the City banned housing discrimination,” reads Evanston’s website.
In addition to the housing grants, Evanston also has a Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund, supported by a $1 million allocation from Northwestern University, which will be applied toward racial justice programming and services.
Evanston will use $400,000 of that sum for a minority business incubator and $300,000 to pilot a guaranteed income program that provides direct monthly payments to some low-income households, though not specifically to Black families.
Another $100,000 will “strengthen the equitable delivery of city services,” while the rest will be spread among arts, social service, language access, elderly and immigrant support organizations.
The place: A northern college town of just fewer than 75,000 people, 16.5% of which is Black.
* Of the 218 mortgages that JPMorgan Chase Bank funded in Evanston in 2018, 150 went to White borrowers and only 17 to Black applicants, with an approval percentage of 62.24% for White borrowers and 47.22% for Black borrowers. No other bank did better in Evanston: Of the 65 new mortgages that Bank of America funded, 43 went to White borrowers, compared with 2 to Black borrowers, according to a review of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data submitted to the city.
* 71% of cannabis arrests from 2017 to 2019 were Black people compared with 15% for white people.
* 80% of white students meet college benchmarks in math compared with 24% of Black students; 85% of white students meet college benchmarks in reading compared with 33% of Black students.
What’s in the plan? Black Evanston residents qualify for a $25,000 housing grant if they lived in the city between 1919 and 1969, or are a direct descendant of someone who lived there during that time. The grant can be applied towards the purchase of a home, or for home improvements for current owners.
Eligible homeowners can also use it to pay down the principle, interest or any other fees associated with a mortgage loan, but not for taxes. There is no income qualification. Right now, the city has $400,000 in its Restorative Housing Program fund.
A direct payout? Not really. While qualifying recipients are entitled to housing grants, those grants actually are paid directly to a bank or contractor, depending on how the grant is used. Evanston officials said that part of why they decided not to do direct payments was because it would create tax liability for the recipient, with both the state and the IRS.
How it’s paid for: The Evanston city council dedicated $10 million over 10 years to the reparations program, funded from tax proceeds from cannabis sales. However, the city is also soliciting private donations to the reparations fund, which means there could be more to spread out in the future.
* It is a true recognition from the city that it harmed its Black residents and is prepared to make amends.
* Real money has been allocated by the city, and some of it is on the way to eligible residents.
* It’s a flag-planting event, where Evanston can brag that it is the first city to create a municipal reparations program for Black people.
* It gives other cities a blueprint for at least how to start a reparations program.
* It’s only a resolution — not an ordinance or binding law — and it comes with an expiration date.
* The grants, so far, will only go to a limited number of people: If the maximum grant of $25,000 was distributed equally, then that would mean only 16 individuals would receive payments this year. Since two people can qualify per household, it could actually end up being a payout to as few as eight families.
* Since the grants can only be used for mortgage-related costs and home improvements, the reparations ultimately end up going to banks and the real estate industry — the same entities responsible for the problems that led to calls for reparations in the first place.
* The revenue stream is dependent upon the sales of a substance, cannabis, that is still illegal in the federal government’s eyes, which places it on shaky ground.
* What About Black Renters?
Compared to the rest of North Carolina, Asheville was not a huge slave-holding city. Its mountainous terrain wasn’t conducive to plantation spaces, but it was heavily invested in slavery. In fact, many of the city’s wealthy elite purchased Black people as investments, buying them at low prices from plantations and selling them at higher prices to other plantations — like flipping properties.
Many of Asheville’s streets and parks today are named after families who were in the slave-flipping business. But many wealthy white Ashevillans also purchased enslaved Black people to be their own domestic servants, or to work at mills and tanneries. Buncombe Count, home to Asheville,made money off of these transactions by taxing these sales.
Asheville’s reparations are focused not on slavery or redlining — though it was not innocent of either — but rather on its participation in what was considered one of the largest urban renewal projects in the South, if not the country. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Asheville’s clearance of areas considered blighted ended up displacing thousands of Black Ashevillans, stripping them of their land, businesses and properties without recompense.
According to local historian Wesley Grant, one Black neighborhood alone, East Riverside, lost “more than 1,100 homes, six beauty parlors, five barber shops, five filling stations, 14 grocery stores, three laundromats, eight apartment houses, seven churches, three shoe shops, two cabinet shops, two auto body shops, one hotel, five funeral homes, one hospital, and three doctor’s offices.”
Most of the Black families and workers displaced ended up living in housing projects, mostly cut off from the rest of Asheville society and its growing economy.
Last summer, the city passed a resolution to make amends for this, apologizing for past harms ranging from school segregation to health care discrimination.
The resolution also called for establishing a community reparations initiative, pledging to look for areas in the city budget where it could add resources to begin plugging the many racial gaps and disparities that still exist today in Asheville. The following month, the surrounding Buncombe County passed its own reparations resolution following Asheville’s model.
Unlike Evanston, Asheville made it clear from the beginning that its reparations would not be paid out in cash to individuals.
The city manager is tasked with working with the county and other community stakeholders through a commission to determine how reparations will ultimately be defined. The primary deliverable for the commission is a report slated to be finalized by 2023, which will lay out what shape and form Asheville’s reparations will assume.
The Place: A Southern city, also a college town, just short of 93,000 people, with an 11.2% Black population.
* 63% of Black families rent, while 37% own their home in Asheville, compared to 48% of white families who rent and 52% who own their homes, according to 2012 data.
* Of the 3,100 people who live in Asheville’s public housing developments, 71.8% are Black.
* Median white household income in Asheville is $46,805 compared to $26,065 for the median Black household income, according to data from 2011 to 2015.
What’s in the plan? For the city, an apology to Black residents for past discrimination and a call for the state and federal governments, and other implicated institutions, to do the same. It also calls for the establishment of a Community Reparations Commission to issue a report in the next several years. The city manager will steer the process and help develop short and long-term recommendations for how the city can assist in “the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility” for Black families.
In a presentation before Asheville’s city council in February, City Manager Debra D. Campbell said funding is immediately needed to support the commission members’ travel and meals, for meeting facilitators, and for a speaker series of reparations experts.
One of the overarching goals for the community reparations program is for the city to fund policies that will give families more equitable access to resources like housing, transportation and health care. The city has already taken steps to provide financial assistance for affordable housing, and the city has created a fund for that.
A direct payout? No, and as of now, there are no plans for one either. As with Evanston, IRS policies were cited as one reason why no direct cash will be involved.
How it’s paid for: Technically there is nothing to pay for yet, because the city and the Community Reparations Commission are just getting started on deciding how the reparations program will shape up.
However, the city did pass an ordinance last year requiring new hotels to pay into the affordable housing fund, while areas zoned for new hotel construction have been reduced, to take out areas that the city stripped away from Black neighborhoods for urban renewal in the 1960s. Former city council member Kevin Young tried to get the city to dedicate $4 million to a reparations fund, but his proposal failed.
* It apologizes for the city’s role in creating the racial disparities seen in Asheville today and has put in place steps, or a process, to make amends.
* It has buy-in from members of Asheville’s Black communities, the surrounding Buncombe County, and even the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.
* It shows that it’s possible for a city in the South to pass a reparations bill.
* No money will be paid directly out to families — in fact, the “community reparations” model could give other cities a blueprint for how to pass “reparations” without actually paying money or giving land to Black families, as reparations have been classically defined.
* It will be years — at least 2023 — before the reparations program will be implemented.
* Like Evanston’s, it is only a resolution, non-binding with no power of law for enforcement.
London’s City University B-School is Renamed After Slavery Link
City, University of London will change the name of its business school to Bayes Business School, after finding its former namesake had garnered some of his wealth from the slave trade.
The school had been named 18 years ago to honor Sir John Cass, following a donation by his eponymous foundation, which gives money for educational purposes. But during the Black Lives Matters protests last July, Cass’s name was dropped because of his links to slavery.
Following consultation with students and alumni, the school will be renamed after a different 18th century figure — theologian and mathematician Thomas Bayes whose “theorem suggests that we get closer to the truth by constantly updating our beliefs in proportion to the weight of new evidence,” the university said in a statement on Wednesday.
City will also introduce measures to improve diversity, including making funding available to five PhD scholarships for Black British students and launching a 10-year long scholarship program for Black U.K. students from 2022/3.
The department will continue to be referred to as The Business School (formerly Cass) until September.
H.R. 40 Reparations Bill Advanced By House Panel, Seeking To Further Effort Of Repaying Descendants Of Slaves
Slave reparations definition: Legislation would establish commission to examine slavery, discrimination in US from 1619 to present.
A House panel advanced a decades-long effort to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves by approving legislation Wednesday that would create a commission to study the issue.
It’s the first time the House Judiciary Committee has acted on the legislation. Still, prospects for final passage remain poor in such a closely divided Congress. The vote to advance the measure to the full House passed 25-17 after a lengthy and often passionate debate that stretched late into the night.
The legislation would establish a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present. The commission would then recommend ways to educate Americans about its findings and appropriate remedies, including how the government would offer a formal apology and what form of compensation should be awarded.
The bill, commonly referred to as H.R. 40, was first introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in 1989. The 40 refers to the failed government effort to provide 40 acres (16 hectares) of land to newly freed slaves as the Civil War drew to a close.
“This legislation is long overdue,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the committee. “H.R. 40 is intended to begin a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to our society today.”
The momentum supporters have been able to generate for the bill this Congress follows the biggest reckoning on racism in a generation in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.
Still, the House bill has no Republicans among its 176 co-sponsors and would need 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate, 50-50, to overcome a filibuster. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were unanimous in voting against the measure.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the commission’s makeup would lead to a foregone conclusion in support of reparations.
“Spend $20 million for a commission that’s already decided to take money from people who were never involved in the evil of slavery and give it to people who were never subject to the evil of slavery. That’s what Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are doing,” Jordan said.
Supporters said the bill is not about a check, but about developing a structured response to historical and ongoing wrongs.
“I ask my friends on the other side of the aisle, do not ignore the pain, the history and the reasonableness of this commission,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.
Other Republicans on the committee also spoke against the bill, including Rep. Burgess Owens, an African American lawmaker from Utah, who said he grew up in the Deep South where “we believe in commanding respect, not digging or asking for it.” The former professional football player noted that in the 1970s, Black men often weren’t allowed to play quarterback or, as he put it, other “thinking positions.”
“Forty years later, we’re now electing a president of the United States, a black man. Vice president of the United States, a black woman. And we say there’s no progress?” Owens said. “Those who say there’s no progress are those who do not want progress.”
But Democrats said the country’s history is replete with government-sponsored actions that have discriminated against African Americans well after slavery ended. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., noted that the Federal Housing Administration at one time refused to insure mortgages in Black neighborhoods while some states prevented Black veterans of World War II from participating in the benefits of the GI Bill.
“This notion of, like, I wasn’t a slave owner. I’ve got nothing to do with it misses the point,” Cicilline said. “It’s about our country’s responsibility, to remedy this wrong and to respond to it in a thoughtful way. And this commission is our opportunity to do that.”
Last month, the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery. The money will come from the sale of recreational marijuana and qualifying households would receive $25,000 for home repairs, down payments on property, and interest or late penalties on property in the city.
Other communities and organizations considering reparations range from the state of California to cities like Amherst, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Asheville, North Carolina; and Iowa City, Iowa; religious denominations like the Episcopal Church; and prominent colleges like Georgetown University in Washington.
Polling has found long-standing resistance in the U.S. to reparations to descendants of slaves, divided along racial lines. Only 29% of Americans voiced support for paying cash reparations, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll taken in the fall of 2019. Most Black Americans favored reparations, 74%, compared with 15% of white Americans.
President Joe Biden captured the Democratic presidential nomination and ultimately the White House with the strong support of Black voters. The White House has said he supports the idea of studying reparations for the descendants of slaves. But it’s unclear how aggressively he would push for passage of the bill amid other pressing priorities.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus brought up the bill during a meeting with Biden at the White House on Tuesday.
“We’re very comfortable with where President Biden is on H.R. 40,” Jackson Lee told reporters after the meeting.