Entrepreneurial Appetite

The Black Reparations Project Part 1

February 26, 2024 William Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen Season 5 Episode 9
Entrepreneurial Appetite
The Black Reparations Project Part 1
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In part one of a two-part episode, we embark on a journey through America's history of racial injustice; we welcomed scholars William Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen to discuss the imperative of Black reparations. Under the weight of the past and the shadow of Confederate monuments, our conversation meanders through the Sugar Land Massacre, the broken promise of 40 acres post-Civil War, and the haunting tale of Hortense MacLinton, UNC Chapel Hill's pioneering Black professor. The dialogue deepens as we confront the federal government's responsibility to address this historical debt and the moral obligation that compels our nation to act.

The concept of wealth and its origins take center stage, revealing the stark disparity between white communities and Black Americans in their generational accumulation of prosperity. We dissect the role of historical land grants and policies such as the Homestead Act of 1862 in shaping today's racial wealth gap. Our guests, Darity and Mullen, navigate us through the complexities of federal reparations, emphasizing the inadequacy of local initiatives and underscoring the need for a national strategy to meet the $16 trillion endeavor necessary to forge equality.

In our final segment, we scrutinize the autonomy and precedent set by direct payments in historical restitution cases, holding up the lens to America's capability and collective will to enact reparations. The discourse, rich with historical context and fueled by passion for justice, leaves us at the precipice of action, with a community-powered Q&A that challenges our collective understanding and calls us to engage further. This episode not only reflects on the past but also ignites the crucial conversation about what we owe each other as a society moving forward.

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Deborah Omawale:

Welcome, welcome, welcome to this intimate conversation. We're so excited to have you and a great way to start the year with Seycham and the Entrepreneurial Appetite Book Club and our amazing guests. For today, I'm Deborah with Seycham and this is Dr Clark and I'm giving the mic over to him.

Langston Clark :

Hello everyone, thank you all for joining us.

Langston Clark :

My name is Langston Clark.

Langston Clark :

I'm the founder and organizer of Entrepreneurial Appetite, a series of events dedicated to building community, promoting intellectualism and supporting black businesses.

Langston Clark :

And when I think about black businesses, I think about that in an expansive way, and so this is probably like the third, fourth, maybe even the fifth time that my book club slash podcast has partnered with Seycham to do an event where we've been able to bring some world-class authors and scholars here to talk about issues relevant to black communities. And I think there's nothing more relevant right now than to talk about the Black Reparations Project by William Darity and A Kirsten Mullin. And before I handed over to them, six months ago or so, they were on my podcast and we had a virtual discussion, and I knew then that they didn't need a moderator for this discussion, because, if any of you are familiar with Jada Kiss and Styles P from the locks and when they go back and forth and they just got a good flow in their wrapping like the two of them are just like that, and so you're in for a treat. Thank you all for joining us, thank you all for being here and enjoy the conversation.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

What a delight. It is both an honor and a pleasure to be invited to share our work with friends here in Texas. While I was not born in the Lone Star State, I claim it as home. My years as a Texas resident were largely split between Fort Worth or Cowtown, the place that the 1843 Republic of Texas Treaty with the indigenous nations of the Delaware, chickasaw, waco, tawakani, kitchi, kado, anandaka, ioni, biloxi and Cherokee proclaimed quote where the West began. Fort Worth is where I grew up and Austin, where I attended the state's flagship institution, the University of Texas at Austin, is where the two of us met.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

We are grateful to our good friend Jan Slayman-Lawler for the vital introduction she made to Deborah Omowale-German, the San Antonio African-American Community Archive and Museum's Chief Executive Officer and Director. Deborah reached out to us and she and Heather Williams conceived today's event. Thank you for making it possible for us to engage in this conversation and to give our work what Naomi Shehabnay, a poet and national treasure who lives here in the city, calls quote a bigger life end quote. We look forward with anticipation to the Q&A that will follow our presentation, the moment when we hear what thoughts and ideas our words provoked in you, those ah-has and say-whats and the questions that make us rethink and dig deeper. We learn a great deal from these interactions and we thank you for giving us this window.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

So the task we have set out for ourselves today is to make the case for reparations and to explain why it should be a federal project exclusively. The federal government owes a debt to Black Americans and the citizens of US slavery, a debt that is almost 160 years overdue. It is the culpable party and it is the capable party. When the nation was founded, it could have established from the outset that Blacks were to be granted freedom and admitted to full citizenship. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era each offered openings to produce a true democracy, thoroughly inclusive of Black Americans. Those opportunities were not seized and, while we wish that the state of Texas had begun as a free state, that was not the case. The rationale for the formation of the separate Republic of Texas was, in fact, the preservation of slavery.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

The rationale for the formation of the separate Republic of Texas was, in fact, the preservation of slavery. Our good friend and San Antonio native educator, maria Garzalubek, penned the Colonialization of Texas, a document the Bullock State Museum in Austin uses to train its docents. The Constitution of Cojula in Tejas, part of Mexico, in 1827, she writes quote provided for the gradual elimination of slavery. Enslave people could no longer be brought to the state and from the date of the Constitution's ratification, all children born to enslaved parents were immediately declared free. Then, in 1829, mexico's Black president you already know the Mexico had a Black president Vicente Guerrero abolished slavery and, upon receiving news of the status of Texas from General Mier y Tehran, passed the law of 1830, which called for the end of Anglo-immigration to the state. In other words, if Texas was to continue to be part of Mexico, it would have to abandon the institution of slavery, pay wages to its forced laborers and grant them the rights that other citizens received. Throughout 1833 and 34, mexico's then Vice President, valentín Gomez Barías, instituted various measures favorable to Texas. President Garza-Lubac informs us that he was pressed into service while Santa Ana was defending Mexico from quote rebellions in the Yucatan and Zacatecas. These measures included dividing Texas into three political districts, accepting English for official purposes, revising the court system and granting religious tolerance. But Gomez Barías's provisions were not adopted and Texas would not grant it statehood from Cojula. Instead, the Republic of Texas is formed as a state republic and breaks off from Mexico, where slavery is no longer legal. Slavery could be preserved if the territory came under the jurisdiction of the United States government, and that is a path its white supremacist leaders took.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

The saying that everything is bigger in Texas also applies to the extent of slave ownership in the state. While the national figure for whites who were members of slave-holding families was 13 percent in 1860, one quarter of whites in Arkansas and Tennessee lived in families that owned at least one enslaved person. In Texas, virginia and North Carolina at least one third of whites lived in slave-owning families. This proportion was dwarfed only by the 40 percent of white slave-holding families in Florida, georgia, alabama and Louisiana, and the disgusting 55 and 57 percent in Mississippi and South Carolina respectively. So 28 percent of all white families in Texas owned at least one black human being. All right, so East Texas counties typically produced more than 5,000 bales or 2,500,000 pounds of cotton by 1860. The counties closest to the Louisiana border averaged 200 to 600 enslaved people, those a bit further west upwards of 100. So spread of slavery in Texas coincided almost exactly with the spread of cotton production. Relatives of non-slave holders held occupations linked to the production of slave-grown cotton and sugar.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

In Texas People say to us my family didn't own, didn't enslave any people, we didn't make our money from the slave trade. Our first response is are you sure? What research have you done? Slavery was one of the first global economies. All roads led to slavery and slave-grown cotton.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Many black people played a critical role in the accumulation of the wealth of white Texans. Slave-holding whites frequently transferred gifts of wealth in the form of black bodies to their children. How about that for a party favor? One common practice was to set up apprenticeships for their slaves as investments. Well-to-do whites might select one of their human stock to undergo training over a four-year period while one of their sons was in grade school. The two men might have been the same age when the apprenticeship was complete. The enslaved person would fetch a hefty prize and then be sold to pay for their son's college tuition. One young man's life and future was sacrificed for another. A slave's life was not his or her own and they frequently were forced into service that endangered their own lives.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Jan Lawler and the late Michael Siren Lawler shared a 2017 article with us from the San Antonio Express News entitled quote a maverick speaks tear that confederate statue down. End quote. The piece recalls the time in which the enslaved blacks Griffin Granville and Rachel. Quote belong to a Mary, a Maverick, and they had been given to her by her parents. Maverick was the wife of Samuel Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, when she learned that her husband was being marched to prison in Perote, mexico, after his capture by French Mexican general Adrienne Wall during the conflict between Mexico and the Republic of Texas, mary Maverick sent Griffin to be by her spouse's side, with instructions that he provide assistance to him as he was able. Griffin was killed in the Battle of Soleil Creek in 1842 while supporting Samuel Maverick. Samuel lived to oppose secession briefly before becoming an advocate and an administrator in the Confederate government. Mary Maverick's gift to her husband of the protection of her enslaved human chattel, griffin, saved Samuel Maverick's life. When Texas joined the Confederacy in 1861, it was the seventh state to do so Governor Samuel Houston opposed secession and became the rare southern leader to refuse to swear an oath to the Confederacy For his troubles, he was removed from office. Many Texans fought on the side of the Confederacy. Then, after the Confederates lost the war, delay and notification of the enslaved in Texas led to the Juneteenth memorialization of the event, now a national holiday.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Juneteenth the 19th of June 1865, refers to the prolongation of enslavement that was imposed upon black people in Texas. Many people mistakenly say it was two years after emancipation. However, this is an inaccurate description. The Emancipation Proclamation did not effectively free the slaves who were under Confederate control. That only happened after the war.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Many are disturbed by the commercialization of Juneteenth that has become another ballyhooed shopping weekend, complete with stereotypical images of black people gleefully toasting their freedom with items like Wal-Mart's quote celebration edition. Juneteenth ice cream. Big red soda. The label on the red velvet flavored dessert read share and celebrate African American culture, emancipation and enduring hope. The product has been pulled from their shores. This is just another purely symbolic gesture towards the black community. It would be a different world if Juneteenth was declared a national holiday in conjunction with the launching of a national reparations program. What would have been the response if Wal-Mart had elected to lead the charge for a national campaign pushing onto TikTok, instagram and Facebook, and taking out full page ads and newspapers across the country and the world advocating for redress for black American descendants of US slavery. That would have been a cause worthy of celebration.

William Darity:

So after the Civil War ended, james Webb Throckmorton, the 12th governor of Texas. He presided from 1866 to 1867. This is in the period of the early days of reconstruction. Throckmorton maintained a white supremacist regime in the territory. He was lenient with the former Confederates and turned a blind eye when Union generals Philip Sheridan, joseph Barr Cadu and Charles Griffin repeatedly implored him to provide adequate protection to blacks and the Freedmen's Bureau agents located in the northern part of the state of Texas. Texas's provisional governor, andrew Jackson Hamilton, had reversed his pro-slavery position in 1865 and had struck a more conciliatory tone, declaring to the people of Texas if the rebellion is conquered, slavery is dead. One is as much a fact as the other. The Negroes are not only free, but I beg to assure my fellow citizens that the government will protect them in their freedom.

William Darity:

Hamilton rejected President Andrew Johnson's reconstruction plan, which was not a reconstruction plan, and aligned himself with the radical Republicans. But his fellow Texas Republican lawmakers did not share his view and passed a series of laws restricting black rights. Over his objections, high levels of terror were directed against blacks. This became the norm in Texas for decades. This is, of course, part of a general national pattern of no consequences for the secessionist for their participation in the traitorous Confederacy. In particular, president Andrew Johnson was quick, was very quick, to pardon the former Confederates and not restrict their capacity to participate in the nation's political process. This has a resonance with some more recent events that have taken place in the United States.

William Darity:

President Andrew Johnson, of course, also was the individual who reversed the 40 acres and a mule policy that had been initiated by General Sherman on the on his arrival at the coast of Georgia and Savannah, where he met with a group of black leaders and asked them, in conjunction with the Secretary of War, edwin Stanton, what they wanted in the aftermath of the Civil War. And they selected a spokesperson who said we essentially want land and to be left alone. And so, about three days later, sherman issued special field orders number 15, which designated the territory stretching from the sea islands of South Carolina to the state of Florida at the border of the St John's River for the freedmen as a territory that would be allocated to them Mistakenly. Many people say that this was 400,000 acres of land that was distributed to 40,000 individuals. That is not correct. If you look carefully at the measurement of the territory that is designated, it actually comes closer to 5.3 million acres. What happened was only 400,000 acres had been distributed to 40,000 of the freedmen before Andrew Johnson discontinued the project and so, and in fact, sherman's special field orders number 15 was essentially a promissory act on behalf of the freedmen who, all four million of whom, were supposed to receive land grants in the aftermath of the Civil War. This never happened.

William Darity:

In addition, in the context of Texas, we have this phenomenon of the denial of the right to vote for black men. But of course this is something that is happening throughout the southern states, the former states of the Confederacy, and we should note that Texas itself is among the top six states with monuments celebrating the Confederacy 178 at last count. We would be delighted to learn that number has decreased. But it is also indicative of the fact that there is the presence of these memorializations of the traitors of the Confederacy not just in Texas, but all across the United States, including some of the northern states. This is also the state that has been the site of upwards of a dozen white massacres of black people. I would include here, in 1868, the Millican Texas massacre. In 1878 to 1883, the Sugarland Texas atrocity. This is an atrocity that was associated with mass killings.

William Darity:

Sugarland, texas, is also notable for an additional atrocity, at least one additional atrocity. The population of Sugarland to Texas today is 118,000 people, 35 to 39% of them are Asian Indians, and many temples, mosques and in the city or headquarters for the Ismaili community in the United States. But I think most of the folks who are living in Sugarland Texas do not have any familiarity with this pattern of history in terms of the violence that's been directed against black people Three years ago, and this is indicative of the lack of knowledge on the part of the living residents. Three years ago we had dinner with a group of Duke University students from Sugarland who didn't know that their city's very existence is tied to the coerced labor of black men caught in the Texas state prison system at least as early as 1878. The former Confederate officers EH Cunningham of Guadalupe County and LA Ellis of Marion County leased the entire state penitentiary population from January 1878 through March 1883 to work their sugar cane fields and this would become their operation, would become what we now know as the Imperial Sugar Company. I suspect you know many of us have bought these large bags of sugar, the products of the Imperial Sugar Company by 1882, some 800 prisoners. Over a third of the state's inmates worked on 12 of the 18 plantations throughout Texas on the basis of these two men's contracts. The conflicts manufactured cotton and wool fabric for the Confederacy during the Civil War and after the war, the convict leasing system provided additional revenue for white entrepreneurs in the state of Texas.

William Darity:

The 13th Amendment, of course, ended legal slavery in the United States, except and this is the famous exception clause except for individuals convicted of a crime. The majority of states passed black codes. Policing of black people increased, especially during the harvesting seasons, and active convenience in terms of manipulation of the law. If you were working your own farm and unable to provide proof of employment, if you were walking around unsupervised, if you were talking loudly to the wrong person, all of this could result in addressed under the terms of the black codes. Every person who touched the case was owed a fee, whether it was a deputy, a sheriff, a jailer, a janitor, a county clerk or a judge. And if you were convicted and not able to pay these fees a likely situation during a period when cash was scarce you were sent to jail to work off the fees. Prisoners leased to airliner railroad and the Brazos Branch Railroad were commonplace. Under the 15-year supervision of Galveston-based war dui company, the prison again made a profit, but scurvy, beatings and self-mutilations among the prisoners increased.

William Darity:

The scope of the prison convict system and the effectively the murders that occurred of the individuals who were compelled to work under the terms of the system is staggering. Now initially, eh Cunningham was said to be one of the wealthiest men in the state and LAL has paid the state $3.01 per month for each of the 365 convicts who were leased. At the operations peak they leased 2,300 men, most of them formerly enslaved, according to Robert Perkison, author of Texas Tuff Ellis and Cunningham earned as much as $500 per year on every convict's labor, making at least $500,000 clear profit over the term of the lease, a vast fortune in the dollar values of the day. Today this would be somewhere in the vicinity of about $13 million. Now we think this history should be taught in the Sugar Land Texas schools, the schools throughout the state of Texas and schools throughout the United States. It is noteworthy that we are at a moment in which the forces of opposition are actively attempting to suppress the knowledge of these types of historical events.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

So one of the stories that we learned while we were researching our first book together, from here to Equality, was one shared with us by Hortense MacLinton. Hortense MacLinton was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's first black tenured professor. She is 105 years old. I spoke to her about six weeks ago. Hortense MacLinton is the daughter of an enslaved person, so people talk about slavery being so long ago. Her father was born enslaved. Now he was an infant when slavery was abolished but in fact his legal status at birth was slave. My grandmother, my mother's mother, is the daughter of a slave. I think in Sandy's family you all are what two more generations.

William Darity:

Yes, my great grandmother was the daughter of two people who were enslaved on Rose Hill Plantation in North Carolina, so I'm the fourth generation from slavery.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

I mean, both of our children were adults when their grandmother, who was herself the daughter of a slave, died. They knew her, they're most all of their childhoods and into their adulthood. So this notion that slavery was so long ago is something that just kind of baffles us. And certainly there are many, many, many people alive today who lived through Jim Crow, or what we refer to as the white terror epoch. The first 10, 12 years of my life or spent under legal segregation in Fort Worth, texas. So I want to talk a bit about Hortense MacLinton's family. So one of the things that we learned is that her father in the early 20th century, sebrone James King, had to leave Kilgore, texas, or, as they would say, I spent some time in Mount Pleasant, Kilgo. They had to leave Kilgore Texas for bully, and the reason for this is that while King was born enslaved, he became educated and prosperous, so much so that he was able to purchase, you know, vast acreages of land in East Texas, and on that land was incredibly rich supply of lumber. So he made his living milling, you know, planting lumber and selling it to anyone who could afford the price. So on one day this is the early 1900s he had an order you know from someone and had sent his crew to load the lumber on the train. They had the paperwork, they had the bills of lading. They present the paperwork to the dispatcher, who is white, and he looks at this and says I'm not putting this nigga's lumber on my train. And they said well, what's the problem? I just told you the problem I'm not putting the lumber on my train. So they go back to Sebrone Jones King and explain to him what happened. He returns with them with his pistol and he says to dispatcher what's the problem? The dispatcher reportedly says you better get off this landing dog, I'm going to kill you. And King says to him you better shoot me fast because before I hit the ground I'm going to kill you. The lumber was loaded on the train and the train took off.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

So King was triumphant that day. But his family said to him we have to get you and your family out of here. There's no way that the local white people are going to allow this to stand. So he packed up his family. They had one car full of their livestock, one car full of their furnishings. His family rode in one car and then he had lumber for his new house that was going to be built in Boli. So Oklahoma was at the time the home of probably about 25 different black settlements. I think maybe about 11 of them have survived. That's a whole conversation right there. How did all these black people come to have these settlements in Boli, oklahoma? But Sir Ron King's wife's family was from Boli. Carlos Slocum is one of the scholars that we knew was doing a lot of research on Oklahoma black settlements. But that's a very rich and interesting story to talk about. So we want to talk a little bit more about some of the massacres that have occurred in Texas.

William Darity:

Thank you. So I mentioned upwards of 12 massacres took place a variety of sites in Texas. These include 1903, whitesboro, texas, 1910, slocum, texas, 1917, houston, texas, 1919, which was the year of the so-called Reds Summer, where there were upwards of 35 of these massacres that took place across the United States. In Texas these massacres took place in Austin, in Longview, texas, and in Texarkana, texas, in 1921, there was a massacre in Denton, texas, and then the last major massacre that we can identify took place in Beaumont, texas, in 1943. We'd like to provide you with a bit more detail about the 1888 massacre that took place in Fort Bend, texas. Now, this was actually a coup d'etat and frequently people say that the only successful coup d'etat that has taken place at the municipal level in the United States occurred in our home state of North Carolina, in Wilmington in 1898. This is not true. There were a number of successful coup d'etats that took place in the state of Louisiana during the reconstruction period, also in Vicksburg, mississippi. If we were to total up the full array of massacres, including those that were coup d'etats and those that were not, there were approximately 100 of them that took place from the end of the Civil War into the 1940s, but the Fort Bend Texas massacre was of particular importance and significance because of the political consequences. During our research we learned that a white power document written by racist, murderous white men in Fort Bend County, texas, in 1888, 1889 was the veritable playbook their fellow white supremacists would use in Wilmington, north Carolina, in 1898. Determined to end Republican-controlled armed white supremacists, known throughout Fort Bend County as the J-Birds, forcibly expelled elective officials allied with the freedmen, the woodpeckers, from their position. De facto, they established a white man's constitution. Over 400 white men, many of whom were members of the local elite, signed the role for the J-Bird Democratic Party Organization, assuring consolidation of white rule. There were whites-only elections in the county for the next 64 years.

William Darity:

Now there's this history of atrocities in Texas, but there's also a history that is related to a national policy that also had the effect of destroying black prosperity and black wealth.

William Darity:

In Dallas, texas, in particular, the black business district was subjected to the running through of a freeway, which not only destroyed the neighborhood that surrounded that area but also destroyed the black business district, and of course, this also was a national phenomenon. It was advanced under the terms of urban renewal and slum clearance. This was the rhetoric of the late 1950s, early 1960s, which formed the basis for the systematic elimination of black business districts across the country. So we've talked a bit about the denial of access to land, we've talked about these atrocities, we've talked about the more recent mid-20th century policies that were associated with the interstate highway system and slum clearance, and essentially we are painting a picture of the way in which public policy national public policy has created economic disadvantage for black Americans. And so there is a connection between policy and the wealth disparities that exist between blacks and whites in the United States. And so, as Kirsten tells you about our view or vision of what a reparations plan should look like, that connection between policy and inequality racial, economic inequality is going to be critical.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Before I do that, I want to mention another way that the federal government has advantaged white Americans while disadvantaging black Americans, and this is the GI Bill. So this was legislation that would make it possible for returning veterans who were in good standing with the government to purchase on favorable terms either a home, a business, a farm. And this is in fact what did happen. But the GI Bill was administered disproportionately to white veterans. So how disproportionately, you might wonder. So one of our colleagues, ira Katz-Nelson, looked very closely at Mississippi and finds that in one year, in the mid 1940s, some 3,900 veterans received the benefit to purchase either a home or a business. Two of them out of nearly 4,000, were black.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Well, the North, you might say, would have given black people a better shake. But in fact when you look at that same time period Northern New Jersey and New York the numbers are much larger. Something on the line of 100,000 veterans received benefits, but the non-black veterans who did so numbered about 100. So when black veterans did receive a benefit and in fact both of our fathers did receive a benefit it was for education. It's very rare to find a black person today who is descended from someone who received that benefit to purchase a home. And if you think about it too, even if the federal government had made it possible for black veterans to use that benefit, where would they have bought those homes? I mean, there were so many developments that had restrictive covenants. They were not welcomed. And even with the GI Bill education benefit, if you think about all of the numbers of how many veterans are we talking about? Are the black?

William Darity:

veterans. Approximately coming back, I'm not really sure.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

I don't want to say it's in our book, but I can't remember the number. I want to say it's close to 2 million. There were enough HBCUs-.

William Darity:

No, that's too large Over the entire-. Oh, you mean all of the veterans, not just the black veterans?

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Right, yeah, then that 2 million might be correct, but there were enough HBCUs to accommodate the black men and women who wanted to go to college, and it's not like they could move into an apartment down the street from Tuskegee. They didn't exist. So the reason that the bill was able to pass is that the southern legislature said the only way we're going to put our muscle behind this bill is if we are allowed to administer it locally. And so they colluded with the financial institutions, they colluded with FHA, the Housing Authority, and they decided who would get those benefits, because they knew if black men and women could buy their own homes, buy their own farms, they would not be content to work in their kitchens or to share crop on their farms and they absolutely did not want their standard of living to be changed. So domestic service and farming were excluded from those provisions, which is exactly how many, many, many black people across the south were employed. Right? So this is another way that the federal government, we say, is culpable for the conditions that exist today. All right, so what does the nation need in this moment? Say we need a federal program designed with the four following tenants Okay, a proper. And we talk about this at length in the Black Reparations Handbook, the Project Handbook, in chapters one and 10. All right, so a proper reparations program must specify who is eligible, how much should be paid, who should pay and what form payment ought to take. All right, those four things. So let's start with eligibility.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

For us, caring, precision is essential in establishing eligibility for reparations. The term African-American, for example, needs exact definition, since there are white Americans who can claim African descent and an enslaved ancestor would otherwise qualify. The condition of being a descendant of quote the institution of slavery unquote should specify slavery in the United States of America. Since this is a project for the black descendants of persons emancipated by the 13th Amendment and the Civil War, we recommend the following criteria for eligibility Recipients must be individuals who can meet a lineage standard and identity standard. Claimants must trace their ancestry to a person who was enslaved in the United States. Recipients also must be individuals who have self-identified as black, african-american, afro-american or Negro at least 12 years prior to the establishment of reparations study commission or reparations program, whichever comes first. Both criteria must be met. An individual cannot wake up tomorrow and declare themselves to be black with a program that we are prescribing. All right.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

That's the subject for another conversation. These are the living descendants of the freedmen who were promised and denied those 40-acre land grants as restitution for the years of bondage. This denial was the foundation of today's racial wealth gap. We believe the racial gap began at the end of the Civil War. That foundation is the foundation for the debt that's owed to living black descendants of persons enslaved in the United States. We talk in. One of our colleagues, evelyn McDowell's chapter on genealogy speaks to this whole question of how can individuals make their case, how can they make their claim. We believe that the federal government should create an agency that staff with professional genealogists who would help individuals establish their claims at no cost to them. The amount At the core of the plan for reparations for black Americans since the slavery in the United States must be at least an expenditure sufficient to eliminate a nation's racial wealth gap.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Today, black Americans since the US slavery comprised 12% of the nation's population, but they possess less than 2% of the nation's wealth.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

The gulf in wealth between black and white Americans on average amounted to $1.5 million per household, or about $400,000 per person. Based upon the Federal Reserve's 2022 Survey of Consumer Finances, the racial wealth gap is the premier economic indicator of the cumulative intergenerational impact of American white supremacy. It provides us with a convenient summary economic measure of the conditions of disadvantage imposed on living black descendants of US freedmen. The wealth gap is a product of federal policies, deliberate actions taken by the national government that disadvantaged black Americans while advantaging white Americans. First, as we say, was the failure to provide the formerly enslaved with any restitution, despite the promise of 40-acre land grants, while under the terms of the Homestead Act of 1862, 1.5 million white families received 160-acre land patents, apiece 40, 160, and then you don't get the 40. Trina Shanks estimates that single federal policy, that one single federal policy, is currently benefiting more than 45 million living white Americans. The last Homestead Act patent was completed, was perfected in 1980.

Deborah Omawale:

This is landing was in Alaska.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

So, in addition, there followed nearly a century of legal segregation, inclusive of 100 massacres conducted by white terrorists, resulting not only in murders of black people but also the theft of black-owned property. Furthermore, in the 20th century, the federal government's asset-building practices shift from land distribution to promotion of home ownership, but does so on a highly discriminatory basis, extending from New Deal-era initiated redlining phenomena to the prejudicial application of home buying support programs under the GI Bill. I was asked for a show of hands. How many of you in this room?

William Darity:

well, we can't see them. How many of you have a GI Bill?

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Benefit in your family. One, two three, four, five, six, seven. Okay, One of our. There's a local school that has taught our first book from here to Equality. It's a high school, has taught our first book from here to Equality three times now and brought us in to have virtual conversations with the students and, at our suggestion, we asked it's a majority white school and our suggestion was that they, you know, have the students interrogate their own family's wealth positions.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

You know talk to your parents, your grandparents, their great parents, if they're still living, and find out where did the money in your family come from? And it was quite interesting. You know, the students were very skeptical about what they would find to a person, and we're talking now three separate years of classes. None of the students were aware of a homestead patent in their families, but in fact over 25% of them discovered them One young guy actually this is all in Zoom so he held up a land patent his family had received in 1840, signed by Andrew Jackson.

William Darity:

Yes, Right, so this is before the homestead act.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

And some of them discovered that their families had land in Arlington, virginia, and you know Fairfax, I mean. You know they did not get scrub land, that's what I'm saying. It was, it was, it was, it was extraordinary moment. So we can assume that these young people would have grown up at the feet of their grandparents hearing stories about the Oregon Trail and how they persevered. And you know we, we battled scurvy and smallpox and you know we were, you know, nearly starving. But that wasn't the case. You know. Instead, they had all received stories about a self made man or woman and while I don't deny that there may have been those individuals in their families and that they had not worked really hard, but they had a big head start with those 160 acre land grants. So you tell just briefly the story of that. We learned from one of our colleagues about one specific family in Texas that had a land grant that they received in 1880 in the Panhandle.

William Darity:

Yeah, so there's a scholar named Jennifer Mueller who did the same kind of exercise with her class, where she asked her students to explore the history of their family's patterns of wealth accumulation, assuming that they may have had some wealth accumulation. There were obviously some students who were gonna say that my family really didn't have much of anything. But among those who responded I think there was one really fascinating story that was connected to the Homestead Act of 1862, which was a family that had received a land patent circa 1880. Is that correct? And it was a land patent for a tract in the Panhandle of Texas and this family decided, for the most part, that they were going to lease the land. And at one point, after the patriarch and the family dies, the matriarch moves the family to Austin, texas, so that the kids will be assured of getting a quality education, and I think six of the eight children get degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Debt, free Debt free, because she can afford it.

William Darity:

Right. And so after she dies, the heirs decide that they're going to continue to lease the land and just divide the returns from the lease among themselves. But then, interestingly enough, in 1980, natural gas is discovered on the property and I think that in the first year the profits for the family from the extraction of natural gas was in the very first year was $100,000. And so essentially, the federal government's Homestead Act of 1862 policy gave this family a return that existed across multiple generations, and that's perhaps a more dramatic example. But 160 acres of land is not trivial. It's not trivial, and you can imagine that some of those sites are locations where there are large tracts of residential properties today that the families that were in possession of that land sold. Right, how many houses can you put on a single acre of?

A.Kirsten Mullen :

land. We did math on this. The average house in the United States is on.2 acres. Yeah, and mathematician, you're real quick.

William Darity:

Yeah.

Deborah Omawale:

A lot, but anyway, if you have 160, acres you can imagine, yeah, so but to finish talking about the reparations plan.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

So we mentioned the four things. Was this combination of federal highway system and a so-called urban renewal that led to the destruction of black neighborhoods and business districts nationwide? So the third thing is the payer Right. So we estimate that it will require at least $16 trillion to close the racial wealth gap, and that standard should set the minimum amount for a reparations plan. It is an expenditure that must be conducted by the federal government, not only due to its culpability, but also because it is the only level of government capable of meeting the task.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

So you all are probably aware of any number of proposals of local and state reparations programs, but for us, all of them will necessarily be incomplete, inconsistent and inequitable. Right, Incomplete because states and municipalities do not have the ability to meet the minimum standard. The combined budgets of all states, cities and towns and there are 108,000 cities and towns in the United States, all of their budgets in the United States are less than $5 trillion funds that they need to use, you know, just to focus on the needs of their constituents, and it's a sum that's far short of the $16 trillion target. They're inconsistent because the individual city and local projects are uncoordinated and decentralized, Inequitable because they are not uniform. You know, Evanston, New York, has basically a housing voucher program that they're passing around, passing office reparations. In Vermont any white individual who chooses can contribute funds to an organization that distributes them to any eligible black person. I understand there's a white woman who you know dutifully puts $3.23 a month into the fund. Like what are we talking about here?

A.Kirsten Mullen :

You know, is it Amherst, Massachusetts that has decided that a drug rehab program is.

William Darity:

I think that's part of the Providence.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

Part of Providence.

William Darity:

thank you, Is the Providence plan? Is their reparations?

A.Kirsten Mullen :

program. These programs are all over the map. They're definitely not uniform and, in addition, we believe they pose the danger that, incomplete as they are, many will treat them as sufficient, making federal actions unnecessary. So the one exception to our objection to local reparations is the case of Washington DC, the District Columbia. Since the district is under the direct authority of the federal government, its citywide spending is not constrained by its own tax revenues, like all other states and municipalities. In fact, the federal government could establish and fund in its entirety a plan for reparations for black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in the United States who reside in the district, as a precedent for a comprehensive national program. In 1862, during the Civil War, congress instituted a compensated emancipation program in the district. The federal government declared slavery illegal in the district and agreed to pay slaveholders $300 for each of their human properties as remuneration.

Deborah Omawale:

That's right, that's right.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

President Lincoln hoped we said these, these plans are inconsistent. President Lincoln hoped the district's example would persuade slaveholders nationwide to accept a similar arrangement and consequently bring about an end to the Civil War. The nation had just emerged from the policy both within abbreviate sorry, the nation could have emerged from the policy both within abbreviated internal armed conflict and slavery no more. But the district's example did not trigger acceptance of compensated emancipation anywhere else, not even in the border states that have remained in the Union. So the district is the only location in America where slaveholders received monetary reparations for their reparations, for their human shadow. But today the district could seize the opportunity to launch the first phase of a comprehensive national reparations program for black American descendants of US slavery. So lastly, the form of restitution. The fourth and final pillar concern concerns the form reparations will make.

A.Kirsten Mullen :

The fourth and final pillar concerns the form that reparations will take. We prioritize direct payments to eligible recipients, the same procedure used to compensate other victimized communities for being subjected to atrocities. Examples include the German government's payments to victims of the Holocaust and the US government's payments to Japanese Americans subject to mass incarceration during World War II. The key feature of the fourth pillar is individual recipients must have full discretion over the use of the funds, just like members of other victimized groups receiving monetary redress, even in much larger projected amounts. I'm not sure how many of you are aware that the US government paid reparations to the Americans who were held hostage in Iran, even though the US government was not responsible. Oh, Iran might have something to say about that. But those individuals received four point four million dollars each Ten yes, look it up, Ten thousand dollars per day of captivity. So we have the capacity to pay reparations. The question is can we muster the will?

The Case for Black Reparations
President Johnson and Sugar Land Massacre
Generational Connections to Slavery and Injustice
Reparations and History of Wealth
Discussion on Reparations and Restitution