40 acres and a mule: The path to reparations in America

40 acres and a mule: The path to reparations in America. The phrase "40 acres and a mule" has been used in conversations about reparations for a long time. . But where did the phrase come from?. During Reconstruction, historians believe reparations were introduced as compensation for unpaid labor work during slavery. On Jan. 16, 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman issued Special Field Order Number 15, which set aside a 30-mile tract of land along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts for former slaves and promised the Army’s help securing loaned mules. That order was necessary considering the 4 million slaves who were freed after the Civil War were left with no money, little education and no land. . Despite the efforts during this period, the land redistribution measures were ultimately abandoned. Most of that Southern land returned to white owners, who allowed former slaves to sharecrop for pennies on the dollar. One bill introduced in the Senate in 1894 would have granted direct payments of up to $500 to all ex-slaves plus monthly pensions ranging from $4 to $15. It never made it past congressional committees. Many civil rights activists rallied for reparations as well, but it often fell on deaf ears. . James Forman, then head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, proclaimed a “Black Manifesto.” . This manifesto demanded $500 million from American churches and synagogues for their role in supporting slavery before the Civil War. . Black nationalist organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, also supported the idea of repayment. Other minority groups have received some form of reparations. . In 1988, Japanese Americans received $20,000 checks and a letter of apology for the imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. . As a result of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, eventually more than $1.6 billion was disbursed to more than 82,000 Japanese Americans, deeming it the most successful push for reparations in U.S. history. There is now a modern-day push for reparations, especially within the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor's deaths. . Rep. John Conyers fought for reparations until he died. He presented bills every year from 1989 until 2017 to review reparations for Black people. Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the bill after Conyers' death, with additions. . Although there has been a reinvigorated push for reparations, many have argued against it. . The latest U.S. Census Bureau data reveals the median net worth for the typical white family is $171,000, while the net worth for the typical Black family is $17,150. But, a June Washington Post/ABC poll found that 63% of Americans do not agree with Black Americans receiving reparations. . Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he disapproves of paying reparations for slavery because “none of us currently living are responsible” for what he and many have called America’s original sin. The financial atonement has been the focus for many debating reparations, but some cities and institutions have found a combination of ways to offer that restoration. In 2015, Chicago enacted a reparations ordinance benefiting hundreds of African Americans brutalized by police from the 1970s to the 1990s. . The law designates $5.5 million in financial compensation, as well as funding for a public memorial, and a range of assistance related to health, education and emotional well-being. This summer, Asheville, North Carolina, was added to the list of communities to vote to study and eventually offer reparations. Evanston, Illinois, plans to use marijuana sales taxes to fund reparations and Burlington, Vermont, is also considering it