Noted Scholars to Discuss Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 17, 2021—William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen, co-authors of the book From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century (The University of North. Carolina Press, 2020) will participate in a moderated conversation about ways in which systemic racism and discrimination have affected economic opportunity for African Americans. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, March 18, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

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At several key moments in American history, the trajectory of racial inequality could have been altered dramatically. Perhaps no moment was more opportune than the early days of Reconstruction, when the U.S. government temporarily implemented a major redistribution of land from former slaveholders to the newly emancipated enslaved. But neither Reconstruction nor the New Deal nor the civil rights struggle led to an economically just and fair nation. Today, systematic inequality persists in the form of housing discrimination, unequal education, police brutality, mass incarceration, employment discrimination, and massive wealth and opportunity gaps. Economic data indicates that for every dollar the average white household holds in wealth the average black household possesses a mere ten cents.

In their book From Here to Equality, Darity and Mullen confront these injustices head-on and make the most comprehensive case to date for economic reparations for U.S. descendants of slavery. After opening the book with a stark assessment of the intergenerational effects of white supremacy on black economic well-being, Darity and Mullen look to both the past and the present to measure the inequalities borne of slavery. Using innovative methods that link monetary values to historical wrongs, they next assess the literal and figurative costs of justice denied in the 155 years since the end of the Civil War.

Finally, Darity and Mullen offer a detailed roadmap for an effective reparations program, including a substantial payment to each documented U.S. black descendant of slavery. Taken individually, any one of the three eras of injustice outlined by Darity and Mullen—slavery, Jim Crow, and modern-day discrimination makes a powerful case for black reparations. Taken collectively, they are impossible to ignore.

William A. Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University.

Kirsten Mullen is a writer, folklorist, museum consultant, and lecturer whose work focuses on race, art, history, and politics.

The event is sponsored by Claiming Williams and the Department of Economics.

For more information, visit the events calendar on the Williams College website at