Reparations Can Go Both Ways

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Slavery is a horrific, irremovable stain on US history. But Americans disagree on how to handle its legacy.While nearly 75% of black respondents in an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll said they believe the US government should pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved black people, just 15% of white participants supported the idea.Overall, about 29% of the people questioned support reparations, or payment to African Americans whose family members were slaves, according to the poll conducted in September of nearly 1,300 black, white and Hispanic Americans. Reparations have been adopted as a talking point among Democratic presidential hopefuls. But there’s little consensus among average Americans.

The underwhelming support for reparations is most evident among the white people who were questioned, and just over half — 54% — said they believe the history of slavery continues to impact black Americans “a great deal.”Meanwhile, 83% of black respondents said slavery still deeply affects them.More — but still less than half of those polled — said the government should issue an official apology for slavery.Age was indicative of participants’ beliefs, too: Those over 60 were the least likely age group to support reparations at 16%, compared to 45% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

The US government is split on reparations

The renewed interest in reparations was the impetus for this poll, Jennifer Benz, research scientist and deputy director of the AP-NORC Center, told CNN.The government has taken small steps toward formally addressing the concept this year. The House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on reparations on Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday that celebrates the end of slavery.But the day before the hearing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed paying reparations, arguing that “none of us currently living are responsible” for what he called America’s “original sin.”Many Democratic candidates for president have voiced support for reparations, but few of them have explained how they’d implement it or what forms it would take. Marianne Williamson is one of the only candidates to propose direct cash payouts to descendants of slaves, suggesting up to $500 billion in payments.While the poll can’t account for differences in beliefs among different race and age demographics, Benz said that over time, as the demographics that support reparations occupy a larger segment of the population, “support may also continue to increase” for those measures.

The legacy of slavery

To supporters of reparations, the idea that slavery’s impacts are not widely felt some 150 years after it was abolished is a pervasive myth.Slavery has molded institutions like capitalism, health care, culture and politics and created persistent wealth gaps between black and white Americans, said Chuck Collins, author and program director at the Institute for Policy Studies.

“People say ‘slavery was so long ago’ or ‘my family didn’t own slaves.’ But the key thing to understand is that the unpaid labor of millions — and the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow laws, discrimination in mortgage lending and a race-based system of mass incarceration — created uncompensated wealth for individuals and white society as a whole,” he told CNN in April.Collins said he’s found that the median wealth of a white household is 41 times greater than the median wealth of a black family — $147,000 versus $3,600.”Immigrants with European heritage directly and indirectly benefited from this system of white supremacy. The past is very much in the present.”

What could reparations look like?

There’s no equation for reparations, but various academics, lawyers and activists have guessed — based on formulations on the total value of slave labor to the US economy over about 250 years — that the payments would fall anywhere between $17 billion and $5 trillion.It’s unclear who or what would pay for reparations, but some have suggested that federal and state governments, private companies and wealthy families who owned slaves could be made to pay, since all supported and benefited from slavery.

Reparations could take on different forms, too: They could be delivered as land or through special social programs instead of direct payment, and some politicians have discussed developing tax credits for low-income families and “baby bonds” to pay for children’s college tuition, but neither of those measures would be exclusive to black families.Some institutions have already taken measures to repent for ties to slavery: Seminaries in New Jersey and Virginia have pledged millions of dollars in reparations to the descendants of slaves who worked on their campuses.

I am not going to spend a lot of time on this subject, because I frankly don’t think it deserves a lot of time. My belief is that history is just that. We need to learn from it, so we stop repeating the same mistakes, but to expect today’s society to be held responsible for actions of ancestors is insane. Slavery ended over 150 years ago. While it was terrible, it was an institution reserved top the U.S. It was practiced all over the world for thousands of years. All races were guilty of this practice. Of course if you ask somebody if they want hundreds of thousands of tax free dollars they are going to say yes. hell I would. So do I blame African Americans from wanting this money, of course not. But am I going to pay for it hell no. This could bankrupt our country. Besides nobody alive in this country was a slave in the south, nor were their parents and their parents for that matter. You would have been born in the early 1840’s or 1850’s to have been affected by this practice, and only if you lived in the South. So what about northern blacks that were never touched by slavery, do they deserve these reparations as well? I have included a list of the last remaining slaves and when they died. Frankly any born in 1860 or later, were just too young to be truly affected by slavery. But they have to be included for the sake of thoroughness. Peter Mills died in 1972 and he was the last one. In 1971 Sylvester Magee died, he can legitimately be considered the last true slave to die, because he was supposedly born in 1841. This would have made him a 130 years old, which is highly unlikely, because that would mean he lived 8 years longer than the oldest verified person Jeanne Calment who was 122 years and 164 days old when she died in 1997. So he may not have been truly affected by slavery as well. So I think you get my point, who gets the money because everybody who affected by slavery has been dead for 50 or more years.

List of last surviving slaves

NameImageBirthDeathNotes and References
Peter MillsOctober 26, 1861September 22, 1972Born in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and died after a pedestrian accident in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sylvester Magee(May 29, 1841)October 15, 1971Unverified and purportedly died at 130 years old in Columbia, Mississippi.
William CasbyJanuary 19, 1857[4]August 17, 1970[5]Photographed on March 24, 1963 by Richard Avedon in Algiers, Louisiana with multiple generations of his family.
Mary Hardway Walker18481969Purportedly lived to at least 120 years old; she had a child who died in his 90s, according to the family Bible on She moved from Union Springs, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee where a newspaper article was published about her learning to read in 1966 at age 116.
Josephuspre-1865after August 28, 1963listed in a bulletin for Martin Luther King Jr.‘s 1963 March on Washington as supposedly the last surviving American slave.
Alfred “Teen” BlackburnApril 26, 1842March 8, 1951One of the last surviving American slaves who remembered slavery, and one of the last Confederate pensioners; resided in North Carolina.
Eliza Moore1843January 21, 1948One of the last verified surviving American slaves; resided in North Carolina.
William Andrew Johnson18591943Last surviving slave of a U.S. President (Andrew Johnson); visited Franklin Roosevelt at the White House in 1937.
Adeline Dade1853December, 1941Possibly one of the last living former enslaved people in New York State
Harriet Wilson WhitelyMarch 15, 1855April 26, 1941The last living former slave in Fairmont, West Virginia
Matilda McCrear1857January 1940The last known survivor of the Clotilda in 1859–1860, the last trans-Atlantic slave ship to arrive in America from Africa
RedoshiRedoshi (Sally Smith) in The Negro Farmer (1938).jpg18481937The next to last known survivor of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in America
Cudjoe LewisCudjoe Lewis photo (cropped).jpg1841July 17, 1935One of the last survivors of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in America
Perry Lockwoodca. 18441929allegedly one of the last living former slaves in lower Delaware, died at age 87
Reuben Freemanc. 1835c. 1915One of the last slaves in Somerset County, New Jersey; lived in Somerville; was enslaved to William Annin of Liberty Corner Likely other later survivors because final slaves were not emancipated until 1865 in New Jersey.
David Hendrickson17991900allegedly the last living former slave sold “on the block” in New Jersey Likely other later survivors because final slaves were not emancipated until 1865 in New Jersey.
Louise Trittonca. 17801891one of the last living former slaves in Connecticut, and oldest person in New Haven
Adjua D’Wolf17941868Possibly the last surviving enslaved person in Rhode Island. Adjua was brought from Africa to Bristol in 1803 and enslaved to the D’Wolf family, a family of slave traders,  after new enslavement was made illegal in Rhode Island. and her death in 1868 was noted in several newspapers around the country, including in the South.  James Howland (1758-1859) was also one of Rhode Island’s last legal former slaves, and was enslaved until 1842 D’Wolf and Howland are likely not the last slaves, due to RI’s gradual emancipation with several legally enslaved people still listed in the 1840 census, and likely enslaved until the 1843 RI Constitution banned all slavery.
Hannah Kelleyca. 1760January 15, 1864died at 103 years old in Cross Creek, Pennsylvania as possibly the last living former slave in Pennsylvania, formerly owned by John Gardner of Jefferson. (unlikely to be the last slave in the state since gradual emancipation for all didn’t occur until 1847)
Margaret Pint17781857purportedly the last living former slave in New York; She was born into slavery in Westchester County. Likely not the last living former slave, because final emancipation in New York did not occur until July 5, 1827.
Venus Roweca. 17541844purportedly one of the last living former slaves in Massachusetts, resided in Burlington, Massachusetts

So why stop with the slaves? What about all those northern soldiers who fought in the War between the states to free the slaves? Shouldn’t their families be eligible for reparations from the black families that were freed? I know why don’t we give everybody reparations for having to listen to Obama’s speeches when he was president. I am still traumatized by them. See what I am getting at, once you start going down this path, there is no coming back.

Resources:, “Nearly 75% of African Americans support reparations for slavery. Only 15% of white Americans do, a poll says,” By Scottie Andrew; “List of the last surviving American slaves,” By Wikipedia editors,”

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