UVA Conference Considers Reparations for African Americans

Mar 21, 2013

The German government has compensated holocaust victims and their descendants. 

The U.S. has made reparations to Japanese Americans interned during the Second World War, and some have been talking about compensating the ancestors of enslaved Africans since the Civil War, when General Sherman proposed providing black families with 40 acres and a mule.  Now, experts are asking, “Is it time to forget about reparations?”

Lawrie Balfour
Credit University of Virginia

“The election and re-election of Barack Obama has lulled many of us into thinking that the challenges of racial equality are behind us,” says Professor Lawrie Balfour.  She’s one of 18 scholars who will speak at a conference on the subject March 22.  Balfour says the wealth gap between blacks and whites in this country is just one sign of how slavery and discrimination have harmed people. 

She knows politicians are in no mood to spend more money but says other solutions , like public history projects and memorials, should be discussed.  The location of this unusual gathering is significant, since the University of Virginia was built, in part, by slaves.