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Reconstruction Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

General William Tecumseh Sherman in May 1865. Portrait by Mathew Brady.

The Truth Behind ’40 Acres and a Mule’

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

By Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — We’ve all heard the story of the “40 acres and a mule” promise to former slaves. It’s a staple of black history lessons, and it’s the name of Spike Lee’s film company. The promise was the first systematic attempt to provide a form of reparations to newly freed slaves, and it was astonishingly radical for its time, proto-socialist in its implications. In fact, such…

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Kearston Farr comforts her daughter, Taliyah, outside the Charleston, South Carolina, church where Dylann Roof killed nine people.

Racial Terror and the Second Repeal of Reconstruction

By Editors' Choice

How the legacy of Jim Crow haunts Trump’s America By Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic — This April, PBS aired a groundbreaking documentary series on the fate of Reconstruction—and therefore of Black America. Featuring more than 40 scholars (myself among them) and Black descendants of key figures in Reconstruction’s history, this copiously researched chronicle also doubles as a powerful and chilling window on to our own age of violent and resurgent white nationalism.

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Dr. Ron Daniels on The Rock Newman Show - Video Preview

Dr. Ron Daniels on The Rock Newman Show

By News & Current Affairs, Video/Audio

Rock Newman Show — With reparations, gentrification, issues like the Mueller Report and rising calls for president Trump’s impeachment making headlines. We’ll share an illuminating discussion of the “Politics of the Unusual” with political scientist Dr. Ron Daniels, president of “The Institute of the Black World 21st Century”. Comments: Share your thoughts or read comments made by others about this episode of the Rock Newman Show on the Rock Newman…

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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 It had been replaced by a sense of disillusionment, a sense of urgency that America was about to lose the last chance to have its soul.”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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A group portrait of the first African-American legislators in the 41st and 42nd Congress. Library of Congress

How Reconstruction Still Shapes American Racism

By Commentaries/Opinions

By Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., Times — During an interview with Chris Rock for my PBS series ­African American Lives 2, we traced the ancestry of several well-known African Americans. When I told Rock that his great-great-­grandfather Julius Caesar Tingman had served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War — enrolling on March 7, 1865, a little more than a month after the Confederates evacuated from Charleston, S.C. —…

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Denmark Vesey House at 56 Bull Street in Charleston, South Carolina.

Slavery and Memory in Charleston, South Carolina

By Reparations

By Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders, AAIHS — The familiar refrain after the Emmanuel AME massacre on June 17, 2015, was that Dylann Roof, the murderer, was not from “here.” But as Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts’ Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy aptly demonstrates, Roof’s understanding of history and memory in Charleston led him to that church; and his understanding was not alien to the sometimes violently, oft-contested memory of slavery in the…

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This 1867 drawing by Alfred Waud, "The First Vote," depicts Black men waiting in line to cast ballots. In Southern states, Black men first gained the right to vote in state constitutions drafted during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.,

Honoring Reconstruction’s Legacy: The Freedom to Vote

By Editors' Choice

During the 1870s, more than a half a million Black men voted for the first time in their lives. But this wave of progressive change did not last long. By Rebekah Barber and Billy Corriher, Facing South — One hundred and fifty years ago, a Congress dominated by “Radical Republicans” — mostly former abolitionists who represented Northern states — mandated that Southern states rewrite their constitutions, ratify the 14th amendment, and grant…

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Left to right: Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens; an African-American soldier in the Union Army; abolitionist Frederick Douglass

The Urgency of a Third Reconstruction

By Editors' Choice

The ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment marked a turning point in U.S. history. Yet 150 years later, its promises remain unfulfilled. By Robert Greene, Dissent — The ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment on July 9, 1868 was a turning point in United States history. Arriving at the height of Reconstruction, the amendment marked the first time the U.S. Constitution explicitly addressed the question of who qualified as an American citizen.…

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