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American History

Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968

The Language of the Unheard: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Social Democracy

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

By Robert Greene II, The Nation — Gone was the optimism of 1963. It had been replaced by a sense of disillusionment, a sense of urgency that America was about to lose the last chance to have its soul.” This was how Jet magazine described the climax of the Poor People’s Campaign, which reached Washington, DC, in the tumultuous summer of 1968. For Jet and for many early civil-rights activists, the Poor People’s Campaign…

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Lonnie Bunch is director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

How Lonnie Bunch came to lead the Museum of African American History

By News & Current Affairs

By Susannah Hutcheson, USA Today — Our series “How I became a …” digs into the stories of accomplished and influential people, finding out how they got to where they are in their careers. As the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Lonnie Bunch spends his days helping Americans understand history that has both brought us together and divided us. The founding…

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Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va

Historian works to ‘humanize those enslaved’ at Fort Monroe

By News & Current Affairs

By Lisa Vernon Sparks, Daily Press — HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — A trove of historical records tells us Fort Monroe in Hampton was built on the backs of thousands of African slaves. But little was known about their identities or who they were — until now. Meet Amos Henley, 23. Skilled, but unpaid for his efforts, Henley was among hundreds leased out by slave owners to the Army — and…

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Visitors and performers at Brazil’s ‘Confederate Party,’ held each April in São Paulo state.

Brazil’s long, strange love affair with the Confederacy ignites racial tension

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

By Jordan Brasher, The Conversation — The aroma of fried chicken and biscuits roused my appetite as the country sounds of Alison Krauss, Alan Jackson and Johnny Cash played over the loudspeakers. This might have been a county fair back home in Tennessee, but it wasn’t. I was in a cemetery in rural Brazil, at the “Festa Confederada” – the “Confederate Party” – an annual celebration of southern U.S. heritage held each April in Santa Bárbara…

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The Capitol stands in the background of this 1830 engraving.

When Slaveowners Got Reparations

By Reparations

Lincoln signed a bill in 1862 that paid up to $300 for every enslaved person freed. By Tera W. Hunter, New York Times — On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill emancipating enslaved people in Washington, the end of a long struggle. But to ease slaveowners’ pain, the District of Columbia Emancipation Act paid those loyal to the Union up to $300 for every enslaved person freed. That’s right, slaveowners got…

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Buildings at Princeton University’s Princeton Theological Seminary are pictured in Princeton, N.J. Last year, the university released a report on the school’s role in American bondage. Although the seminary did not own slaves and slave labor was not used on constructing the school, slave owners were major donors and responsible for as much as 40 percent of the seminary’s revenue.

‘We are therefore demanding …’ : Reparations in the Christian church

By Editors' Choice, News & Current Affairs

By Wyatt Massey, Frederick News Post — The Rev. Dr. Ernest Campbell said no, James Forman could not speak at his church service the next day. Campbell was the senior pastor at Riverside Church, a predominantly white church on the west side of Manhattan. Forman, a black civil rights leader, wanted to read something to the congregation at the next day’s service on May 4, 1969, according to a history…

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