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History Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

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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Supporters of American slavery reparations in Washington in 2002.CreditCreditManny Ceneta/Getty Images

Reparations: A Conversation Worth Having

By | Commentaries/Opinions

The debate on when it is relevant to apologize and pay reparations for misdeeds and human rights violations tells us that the past is never dead. By Jorge G. Castañeda, The New York Times — MEXICO CITY — Three weeks ago and 500 years after the arrival of Hernán Cortés in Veracruz, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico sent a letter to the king of Spain. In it, he…

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Hans Sloane collected this specimen of cacao in Jamaica in the 1680s. Sloane often collected on or near slave plantations, taking advantage of slavery’s infrastructure to advance his science.

Historians Expose Early Scientists’ Debt to the Slave Trade

By | Editors' Choice, Reparations

By examining scientific papers, correspondence between naturalists, and the records of slaving companies, historians are now seeing new connections between science and slavery and piecing together just how deeply intertwined they were. By Sam Kean, Science Magazine — At the dawn of the 1700s, European science seemed poised to conquer all of nature. Isaac Newton had recently published his monumental theory of gravity. Telescopes were opening up the heavens to…

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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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Turbulent history … Tamara Lawrance in the BBC adaptation of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song.

‘We’re still living with slavery’

By | Reparations

From prize-winners Esi Edugyan and Marlon James to debut novelists such as Sara Collins, a new generation of novelists is exploring a painful past. By Colin Grant, The Guardian — Two hundred years ago, slave narratives seemed one of the few routes to publication for black writers on both sides of the Atlantic. Autobiographical accounts written by former slaves such as Olaudah Equiano, Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass proved enormously popular with readers, who…

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Making Good on the Broken Promise of Reparations

By | Reparations

By Katherine Franke, NYR Daily — A bill calling for the federal government to “study and consider” how to provide reparations to African Americans for slavery has been introduced into every session of the US Congress for the last thirty years. The bill’s aim is “to address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the thirteen American colonies between 1619 and 1865.” Representative John Conyers, the primary sponsor…

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Protest for Economic and Racial Justice in Lousiville, Kentucky as part of the 2014 United Methodist Women's General Assembly. Image by Brittney Drakeford.

City planners need to talk about race. The lives of our residents depend on it.

By | Commentaries/Opinions

By Brittney Drakeford and Ras Tafari Cannady II, Greater Greater Washington — The effects of historic discriminatory urban design practices, such as redlining and racially-restrictive zoning, are by no means relegated to the past. New research shows how discriminatory land use practices continue to degrade the health of people of color to this day. In order to build more equitable communities, planners must better understand and acknowledge this legacy of discrimination—and actively…

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Gayle King interviews Ralph Northam

Slavery vs Indentured Servitude: Which aids racism?

By | Commentaries/Opinions, Reparations

Perhaps the main reason so many people objected to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam calling the first 20 Africans to land in Virginia in 1619 indentured servants, and not slaves, is that they believe the conditions of slavery were so much harsher than those of indentured servitude, that calling these Africans indentured servants amounts to a cover-up of their reality. That is because the popular image that we have been sold…

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Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, seen at a South Carolina NAACP march in January, are two of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates pressed on the issue of reparations this week.,

We Absolutely Could Give Reparations To Black People. Here’s How.

By | Editors' Choice

By Julia Craven, Huffington Post — Let’s say you’re driving down the street and someone rear-ends you. You get out of your car to assess the damage. The person who hit your vehicle gets out of his car, apologizes for the damage and calls his insurance company. Eventually, you receive a check for the harm done. Now, let’s say that for years, if not generations, your family and families like…

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Donald Trump and Frederick Douglass

Biographer explains the lessons of Frederick Douglass: ‘White supremacy does not die — it revives in new forms’

By | Commentaries/Opinions

Biographer David Blight on Douglass’ lessons for us: “White supremacy does not die … it revives in new forms.”   By Chauncey DeVega, Salon — Black History Month, which has just concluded, was first established as Negro History Week in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. February was chosen in particular because it contained two very important dates: Feb….

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