Featured in Issues & Controversies in American History:
Should African Americans Receive Reparations for Slavery?
Since the United States abolished slavery in 1865, former slaves and their descendants have raised the issue of whether they should receive compensation and redress in some form for slaves’ unpaid labor and suffering. While some place emphasis on financial reparation, others have focused on land ownership or simply called for an apology. Although the issue languished in the years after Reconstruction, it gained renewed attention in the 1990s and early 2000s. Supporters of reparations see them as repayment of a debt, whether moral, financial, or psychological. Since slaves worked without pay for more than two centuries, they argue, those who profited from their labor should compensate their descendants in some way. Reparations, they contend, will also promote racial reconciliation. Opponents of reparations see them as impractical. Determining who would pay reparations, who would receive them, and how much they would get, they argue, is too controversial to solve fairly. Putting a price tag on suffering under slavery, they contend, is also disrespectful to those who underwent it.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Should African Americans receive reparations for slavery? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of the arguments surrounding slave reparations.
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