American History Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

Ta-Nehisi Coates

As Reform Jews, we must consider reparations for American slavery

By Commentaries/Opinions, Reparations

By Jonah Pesner, Chicago Tribune — Americans in general and faith groups in particular increasingly find ourselves reckoning with our nation’s bigoted history and struggling with how to dismantle the racist systems and structures that persist to this day. As the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, it’s time for the Reform movement to join this conversation. It’s time for us to talk reparations. When I first read Ta-Nehisi…

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Fund for Reparations Now

White activist and group of progressives launch FFRN! initiative to support NAARC

By NAARC Posts, News & Current Affairs, Press Releases / Statements, Reparations

White Activist and Group of Progressives Launch “Fund for Reparations Now” Will Support the National African American Reparations Commission. Los Angeles, CA — As support for reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans in America continues to build momentum across the country, David Gardinier, a Los Angeles-based racial justice activist, has assembled a group of like-minded White progressives to launch the Fund for Reparations Now (FFRN). The objective of this…

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A portrait from 1868 of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Faith made Harriet Tubman fearless as she rescued slaves

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

By Robert Gudmestad — Millions of people voted in an online poll in 2015 to have the face of Harriet Tubman on the US$20 bill. But many might not have known the story of her life as chronicled in a recent film, “Harriet.” Harriet Tubman worked as a slave, spy and eventually as an abolitionist. What I find most fascinating, as a historian of American slavery, is how belief in God helped Tubman…

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Myths about physical racial differences were used to justify slavery — and are still believed by doctors today.

How false beliefs in physical racial difference still live in medicine today

By Reparations

Myths about physical racial differences were used to justify slavery — and are still believed by doctors today. By Linda Villarosa, New York Times — The excruciatingly painful medical experiments went on until his body was disfigured by a network of scars. John Brown, an enslaved man on a Baldwin County, Ga., plantation in the 1820s and ’30s, was lent to a physician, Dr. Thomas Hamilton, who was obsessed with proving that…

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Harriet Tubman

Uplifting the Liberator, Harriet Tubman: Unmasking the Imposter, Harriet of Hollywood

By Dr. Maulana Karenga

By Dr. Maulana Karenga — Part 1. The conversations and controversy surrounding the movie “Harriet” of Hollywood seems, at first sight, to be simply about Harriet Tubman, the liberator, the Harriet Tubman of history. But in a larger sense, it is about Black people, about: how we see ourselves; how we see our heroes and heroines; how we understand and honor our history, especially the history of the Holocaust of…

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Former enslaved people in a Southern town shortly after the end of the Civil War, circa 1865.

American Slavery and ‘the Relentless Unforeseen’

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

This essay is an adaptation of the fourth annual Philip Roth Lecture, delivered at the Newark Public Library on November 4, 2019. The lecture began with an appreciation of Roth’s merging of fiction and history. An admirer of great historical writing, Roth understood that, to be truly great, it had to grapple with what he called, in The Plot Against America, “the relentless unfolding of the unforeseen.” Flipped on its…

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Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee Wasn’t a Hero, He Was a Traitor

By Reparations

By Michael McLean, HNN — There’s a fabled moment from the Battle of Fredericksburg, a gruesome Civil War battle that extinguished several thousand lives, when the commander of a rebel army looked down upon the carnage and said, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” That commander, of course, was Robert Lee. The moment is the stuff of legend. It captures Lee’s…

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Electoral College

The Electoral College’s Racist Origins

By Editors' Choice

More than two centuries after it was designed to empower southern white voters, the system continues to do just that. By Wilfred Codrington III, The Atlantic — s a color-blind political system possible under our Constitution? If it is, the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 did little to help matters. While black people in America today are not experiencing 1950s levels of voter suppression, efforts…

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No image of Henrietta Wood survives today, but her story is recorded in court filings, including the verdict slip above.

The slave who won reparations

By Reparations

In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won. The $2,500 verdict, the largest ever of its kind, offers evidence of the generational impact such awards can have. By W. Caleb McDaniel, Smithsonian Magazine— On April 17, 1878, 12 white jurors entered a federal courtroom in Cincinnati to deliver the verdict in a now-forgotten lawsuit about American slavery. The plaintiff was Henrietta Wood, described by a reporter at the time as…

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Slavery’s Lessons for the Supreme Court and the DACA case

By Commentaries/Opinions

The law is sometimes characterized as a clear set of rules, but it isn’t always so straightforward. By Jamal Greene and Elora Mukherjee, Los Angeles Times — The Morgan children were in their pajamas, probably dreaming, when four men broke into their home before daylight, loaded them into the back of an open wagon and forcibly took them across Pennsylvania’s southern border. The year was 1837. “DREAMERS” attend a news…

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