Reparations: A Moral Debt That America Has Not Paid

Written by PlayBack

By Evette D. Champion

During the early 1900s, families across the Deep South were desperately seeking the protection the was supposed to grant them as citizens of the United States. However, in the 1920s, states like Mississippi were considered Jim Crow states and thus robbing their black citizens of the rights the new laws should have afforded them. Not only were they were being tricked at the polls come time for a vote, but they were being bullied away from voting due to lynch mobs. In Mississippi between 1882 and 1968, there were more instances of black folk getting lynched than any other state in the country.

Along with being denied the ability to vote, black farmers in Mississippi were living in extreme poverty because they were still under the sway of the men who owned the cotton fields the farmers worked, thus making them their landlord, their employer, and their main merchant. The things the farmers needed to ensure a good bounty were overpriced so that the farmers were driven deeper into debt, no matter how good the season was.

In a time when the country was saying that black people were equal to the whites, there were many unscrupulous people who were still against this and set out to make it extremely hard for black people to get a leg up in the world. Lenders often took enjoyment from driving the black folk who came to them looking for a loan deeper into debt.

When was abolished, former slaves were led to believe they would receive reparations for the wrong that had been done to them. In 1968, a group of people who were a part of the Contract Buyers League were out to get those reparations that was owed to their ancestors—reparations that they never received—or had stolen.

In a lawsuit presented by the Contract Buyers League, the suit focused largely in how the city of Chicago was rooted in segregation which caused two housing markets: one that was legitimate and backed by the government and the other which did not play by the rules and was a safe haven for predators. By 1976, when the lawsuit was lost when it was presented in front of a jury, it made it clear that it would be impossible for descendants of slaves to receive the reparations.

In an article published at, there is a realization drawn that black families who make $100,000 and live in neighborhoods that white families who make $30,000 generally live in. What this means is that no matter how well off an is, they may never truly reach the same equality of a white person with the same credentials and income. It’s not right, of course, but it is something that we still struggle with today to rectify.



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