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Civil War Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

Celebration of the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia by the Colored People, in Washington, April 19, 1866,”

Since Emancipation, the United States Has Refused to Make Reparations for Slavery

By Reparations

But in 1862, the federal government doled out the 2020 equivalent of $23 million – NOT to the formerly enslaved but to their white enslavers. By Kali Holloway, The Nation — In 1870 a black woman named Henrietta Wood sued the white deputy sheriff who, nearly two decades earlier, kidnapped her from the free state of Ohio, illegally transported her to slaveholding Kentucky, and sold her into a life of enslavement that…

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For decades, structures such as Rosenwald schools were deemed insignificant.

The Fight to Preserve African-American History

By Editors' Choice

Activists and preservationists are changing the kinds of places that are protected—and what it means to preserve them. By Casey Cep, The New Yorker — No one knows what happened to Gabriel’s body. Born into slavery the year his country declared its freedom, he trained as a plantation blacksmith and was hired out to foundries in Richmond, Virginia, where he befriended other enslaved people. Together, they absorbed, from the revolutionary…

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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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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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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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Commentary, Articles and Essays by Dr. Maulana Karenga

Focusing on Freedom with Harriet Tubman: Enduring Advice on Relentless Resistance

By Dr. Maulana Karenga

By Dr. Maulana Karenga — This is a reminder, prelude and promise of a coming review on the movie “Harriet”. This is in joyful and grateful homage to our illustrious foremother, Harriet Tubman, the liberator. We offer sacred words and water to this leader and liberator, this all-seasons soldier, abolitionist, freedom fighter, strategist, teacher, nurse, advocate of human, civil and women’s rights, and this family woman: daughter of her parents…

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

How Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Novel Reckons With the Past

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

“The Water Dancer” comes out of a powerful examination of the legacies of slavery today. By Eric Herschthal, The New Republic — Eight years ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an essay in The Atlantic asking why so few black people studied the Civil War. Coates noted that he himself had only recently become an avid reader of Civil War history, and along with it, a student of the larger system that propelled it into…

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What Happened to Abraham Lincoln’s Missing Slavery Speech?

What Happened to Abraham Lincoln’s Missing Slavery Speech?

By Reparations

By Allison McNearney, The Daily Beast — On the skills section of Abraham Lincoln’s resume, badass orator ranks near the top. During the course of his career, the 16th president excelled at giving profound, rousing, and memorable speeches that have been engraved on the soul of the country. But while schools across the U.S. instill their students with the historic lines from the Gettysburg Address, while politicians quote his second inaugural address in…

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What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019

What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019

By Reparations

The idea of economic amends for past injustices and persistent disparities is getting renewed attention. Here are some formulas for achieving the aim. By Patricia Cohen, The New York Times — If you’re surprised that the issue of reparations for black Americans has taken so long to resolve, blame the president. President Andrew Johnson. As the Civil War wound down in 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman made the promise that would come to be…

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L. Prang & Co. print of the painting Hancock at Gettysburg by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett's Charge.

The Diaries Left Behind by Confederate Soldiers Reveal the True Role of Enslaved Labor at Gettysburg

By Reparations

Even as some enslaved men escaped North, the retreat by the Army of Northern Virginia would have been disastrous without the support of its camp servants. By Kevin M. Levin, Smithsonian —  Walking the Gettysburg battlefield today, it’s easy to imagine the Union and Confederate armies dueling for control of the Pennsylvania town and its surrounding picturesque fields and rocky hills for three days in July 1863. For many tourists,…

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