Rhetoric of Racism, Reparations – Separation?

Black Americans Deserve Reparations – California Can Lead The Way

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, article after article has outlined the disproportionate impact of the virus on Black Americans. The information is staggering: according to the CDC, 30 percent of Covid-19 patients are Black, though Black people are only 13 percent of the U.S. population. In California, more than 15 percent of people between the ages of 18-49 who died from Covid-19 were Black, but only six percent of Californians are.

Many explanations are offered, all of which undoubtedly play their role: Black Americans are more likely to be employed by public facing jobs that do not have a work from home option, offer little to no sick leave, and/or don’t offer health insurance. Black Americans are also more likely to live with chronic illness, instability in housing due to rental markets, and poverty. 

Although it’s impossible to pin down any one factor on which to direct laser focus, one thing is clear: the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has on Black Americans mirrors the various forms of continued, systemic oppression this country has leveraged against Black people since the first person was forced here from Africa. Because of this, we can no longer ignore reparations as a plausible solution to remedy past wrongs.


Descriptive Versus Prescriptive

Race in America 2019

Public has negative views of the country’s racial progress; more than half say Trump has made race relations worse

More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality, and there is some skepticism, particularly among blacks, that black people will ever have equal rights with whites, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.


Martin Robinson Delany

Martin Robison Delany was born free on May 6, 1812, in Charles Town, Virginia, now within West Virginia. Although his father Samuel was enslaved, his mother was a free woman, and Martin took her status under slave law. Both sets of Martin Delany’s grandparents were African. Martin Delany is considered to be the grandfather of Black nationalism.He was also one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. Trained as an assistant and a physician, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, when many doctors and residents fled the city. Active in recruiting blacks for the United States Colored Troops, he was commissioned as a major, the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War. After the Civil War, he worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau in the South, settling in South Carolina, where he became politically active. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor and was appointed a Trial Judge. Later he switched his party loyalty and worked for the campaign of Democrat Wade Hampton III, who won the 1876 election for governor. 


Alexander Thomas Augusta

Alexander Thomas Augusta, born of free African American parents, in Norfolk, Virginia. Later enrolled at Trinity College of the University of Toronto in 1850. He ran a business as a druggist and chemist. Six years later he received a degree in medicine. Augusta went to Washington, D.C., wrote Abraham Lincoln offering his services as a surgeon and was given a Presidential commission in the Union Army in October 1862. On April 4, 1863, he received a major’s commission as surgeon for African-American troops. This made him the United States Army’s first African-American physician out of eight in the Union Army and its highest-ranking African-American officer at the time.Augusta returned to private practice in Washington, D.C. He was attending surgeon to the Smallpox Hospital in Washington in 1870. He also served on the staff of the local Freedmen’s Hospital and was placed in charge of the hospital in 1863.


Morrill Act 1890 – Agricultural College Act

The second Morrill Act in 1890 was aimed to include the former Confederate states. This act required each state to show that race was not an admissions criterion, or else to designate a separate land-grant institution for persons of color.

Historically black universities were established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890, these consists of the following 19 universities: Alabama A&M, Alcorn State University, Central State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Virginia State University and West Virginia State University. The land-grant institutions programs were intended to strengthen research, extension and teaching in the food and agricultural sciences by building the institutional capacities of the 1890 Institutions.

Though the 1890 Act granted cash instead of land, it granted colleges under that act the same legal standing as the 1862 Act colleges; hence the term “land-grant college” properly applies to both groups.

Later on, other colleges such as the University of the District of Columbia and the “1994 land-grant colleges” for Native Americans were also awarded cash by Congress in lieu of land to achieve “land-grant” status.


Morrill Act of 1862

Justin Smith Morrill, who served 43 years in Congress, was the son of a blacksmith who keenly felt his lack of formal education. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

From the 1800 – 1860 the federal government, through 162 violence-backed cessions, expropriated approximately 10.7 million acres of land from 245 tribal nations and divided it into roughly 80,000 parcels for redistribution. Proceeds from the land sale and redistribution was used to funded the Morrill Act of 1862.

Morrill is hardly a household name today, but his legacy is immense, felt in every single state. That’s because of a single bill he proposed, the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. In the midst of some of the worst fighting of the Civil War, Congress passed a visionary piece of legislation that created more than 100 universities and reshaped the way Americans thought about higher education.

Morrill is hardly a household name today, but his legacy is immense, felt in every single state. That’s because of a single bill he proposed, the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. In the midst of some of the worst fighting of the Civil War, Congress passed a visionary piece of legislation that created more than 100 universities and reshaped the way Americans thought about higher education.

Over the course of just a few days in July 1862, Lincoln signed a remarkable set of bills into law, including the Homestead Act, the Transcontinental Railroad Act, and Morrill’s Land-Grant College Act. The first two gave away approximately 200 million acres of government land to settlers and to the railroads needed to get them there. Morrill’s act would eventually offer another 17.4 million acres to the states, on the condition that they create public universities with particular expertise in agriculture, technology, and military training. Ideas about federal support for education had been floating around Washington since Jefferson, but this was the boldest act ever undertaken by far, dazzling in its scope and imagination.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University (no longer public), and a huge number of others. Land-grant schools have graduated more than 11 presidents — and tens of millions of Americans were born of the Morrill Act.

In the South, a “separate but equal” philosophy was permitted, that allowed segregated institutions to exist until the Civil Rights movement. At the same time, however, the fact that the South was included eased its reintegration into the country after the Civil War. Many of the most eminent African-American colleges, including Hampton and Tuskegee, also owe their origins to Morrill’s bill. Native American schools would also be added.


Native American Timeline

Print portraying Pocahontas intervening between her father, Chief Powhatan, and Captain John Smith. Photo from Library of Congress. 



Capitalist Greed 1808

After an 1808 act of Congress abolished the international slave trade, a domestic trade flourished. Richmond became the largest slave-trading center in the Upper South, and the slave trade was Virginia’s largest industry. It accounted for the sale of as many as two million people from Richmond to the Deep South, where the cotton industry provided a market for enslaved labor.

Prices of slaves varied widely over time. They rose to a high of about $1,250 during the cotton boom of the late 1830s, fell to below half that level in the 1840s, and rose to about $1,450 in the late 1850s. Males were valued 10 to 20 percent more than females; at age ten, children’s prices were about half that of a prime male field hand.

Virginia’s 550,000 slaves constituted one third of the state’s population in 1860.

Know Your History - Know Your Story Rebellion

Protest & Rebellion 1800’s

  • Gabriel’s Rebellion, 1800

Gabriel was a literate enslaved blacksmith hired out to work in Richmond by his owner, Thomas Prosser of Henrico County. With some freedom of movement, access to other slaves, and information about uprisings elsewhere, Gabriel planned a slave rebellion in central Virginia. Betrayed by two fellow slaves, Gabriel and twenty-five of his followers were hanged.

  • The Nat Turner Revolt, 1831

The danger of a slave uprising seemed remote to most whites until this incident. In Southampton County, Nat Turner led about sixty fellow slaves in a two-day uprising that left sixty whites dead. The reaction to the event by white southerners can be seen in broadsides, narratives, and private letters. Because Turner’s former master was said to be a fair man, every slaveholder in Virginia suddenly felt threatened.

Know Your History - Know Your Story

Know Your History – Know Your Story

Your life’s journey is history, so share your reflects and comments