REPAIRING AMERICA

·7 min read
As we hit the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, we define reparations and the fight for Black equity across the United States
As we hit the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, we define reparations and the fight for Black equity across the United States

As the federal government gets closer than ever to moving on H.R. 40 — a bill that would designate a committee to study racism in America and propose reparative measures — and local, county and state governments across the country make similar moves, we wanted to track the nation’s progress on making amends for its history of inequity. When the country marked 100 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre, we looked at, among other things, the loss of Black wealth, housing instability and redlining. We interviewed members of Congress about the federal H.R. 40 battle, and we’re taking a look at how states like Vermont and California are addressing reparations for their residents. We plan to look at reparations and policing, the role of nonprofit organizations and repair and what’s happening at educational institutions. Look for updated content every month.


CHAPTER 3: STATES AND THE REPARATIONS FIGHT

Are reparations being discussed in your state? Find out here.

Research reveals apologies for slavery, task forces but little substantial monetary action. Explore exclusive database, maps

As NC cities move toward reparations, will ‘piecemeal’ resolutions hinder federal support?

Some view city reparations as obstacles, not templates. Read more

How culpable is California, a non-slave state, for its role in slavery in the United States?

As California embarks on a two-year journey to examine reparations for slavery, we asked community members to share their thoughts about reparations. Read more

In Athens, Ga., Linnentown residents want their land back

They made strides on reparations. But the residents who lost everything to urban renewal say there’s more to justice than money. Read more

Maryland pardons set example for bipartisanship on racial healing

Gov. Hogan’s actions show states are more unified than federal government on issues related to racism and repair. Read more


Vermont struggles, experiments with direct payment

While racial justice protests renewed reparations talk, some pushed for (among other things) white people to use Venmo to compensate Black residents. Read more

Southern county leads on making slave records public

Slave deed efforts in North Carolina’s Buncombe County pave the way to link descendants to deserved reparations. Read more

Illinois city touted as first, lagging on reparations plan

As elders call for promised repair, the city's plan doesn't fix harm, it adds to loss. Read more



CHAPTER 2: FEDERAL REPARATIONS & TRAUMA

Slavery and modern America

Slavery and modern AmericaLack of empathy and hypervigilance are rooted in America’s slave past, and they are reenforced every time we watch a video of police brutality. That stress is killing Black America. Project editor Eileen Rivers talks about multigenerational trauma and how addressing it is vital to reparations. Read more



‘Our bodies are just worn down’

The nation’s past is not really gone — to the physical and emotional detriment of Black people. Members of Congress and a psychologist who specializes in historical trauma, take a deep look at why our history and our emotional growth reveal the need for reparations on the federal level.



‘Seed capital for the nation we’re becoming’

That’s how author and activist Heather McGhee explains race education and reparations. She breaks down what critical race theory is (and what it isn’t) and why she thinks the wealthy are attempting to control the debate. Read more

The original Emancipation Proclamation on display in the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington.
The original Emancipation Proclamation on display in the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington.



Set the record straight

Black people invented much of American music, but too often get little of the credit (and in many cases even less pay). How rich would this nation’s culture be without Prince? Little Richard? UCLA African American studies professor Marcus Anthony Hunter talks about musical wealth and how repayment, in the case of intellectual property, may not need to come in the form of money. Read more

Little Richard in 1966.
Little Richard in 1966.



‘Access to the soul’

Musician Aloe Blacc, professor Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon and filmmaker Leigh Blake talk about what they think Black musicians contributed to the industry and what acknowledgment for generations of unattributed work means to them in Reparations Explained.



CHAPTER 1: TULSA AND THE ERASURE OF BLACK WEALTH

One sentence from Viola Ford “Mother” Fletcher, the oldest living Tulsa Race Massacre survivor at 107, sums up the Black experience in America better than any other: “Greenwood should have given me the chance to truly make it in this country.”

The nation’s history is riddled with movements and moments that have thwarted the safety, upward mobility, political progress and sometimes mere existence of Black America. Some have been violent, like the white mob that Mother Fletcher watched, at the age of 7, kill Black men in front of her home; or the brutal asphyxiation of unarmed Black man George Floyd, which modern technology allowed us all to see. Others have been political. Voter suppression efforts started more than 100 years ago and continue today.

Black people should have an equal chance to make it in this country, just like any other group. But we don’t. The gaps in success between Black and white people in America when it comes to homeownership (less than 50% for the former and nearly 80% for the latter) and employment are a testament to that.



‘For 70 years (they) told us that the massacre didn’t happen’

Viola Ford "Mother" Fletcher confirmed for the nation what she and the rest of Tulsa already knew – the massacre did happen and a white mob killed hundreds. USA TODAY Opinion cartoonist Mike Thompson animated moments from her congressional testimony.



Fighting on two fronts

Tiffany Crutcher's great-grandmother was a victim of the Tulsa race massacre. Her twin brother was shot and killed by Tulsa police in 2016. She's battling for them both. Read more



Nearly two dozen Black massacres in American history

Most were responses to false accusations and erroneous news reports. Others were attempts at eradicating social change. We searched news stories and historical sites and reached out to cities across the country. Here's what we learned about why massacres happened and the reparations given. Search the database



‘Mother’ Randle on being a survivor

"It's not anything I'm proud of or think is grand," Lessie Benningfield "Mother" Randle said to the USA TODAY Network during a recent interview. The Tulsa Race Massacre "is just something I wish had never happened, and I never learned about."

Is this small Georgia town a model for reparations?

The residents of Linnentown were pushed out by bulldozers and a city that made the equivalent of $1.8 million by selling the town's land to the University of Georgia. Nearly six decades later, former residents pushed the county to label those actions white supremacist terror and won. Read more

Urban renewal killed other Black Wall Streets across the country

Hayti. Jackson Ward. 15th Ward. Highways ripped apart these thriving communities decades ago. Black female entrepreneur Maggie L. Walker became the first woman to own a bank, and she did that in Richmond, Virginia's Jackson Ward neighborhood in 1903. Learn more about these community successes, and how they can be brought back. Read more



Racism costs all Americans, not just Black people. How much? Read on.

Job and home losses due to racial discrimination have cost the American economy trillions. Marcus Anthony Hunter, a UCLA professor of African American studies and sociology, breaks down the money that could have been propping up the GDP and how those losses relate to massacres like Tulsa. Read more.





Political violence, massacres and the Black economy

Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University, breaks it down: The reason massacres like Tulsa happened is because of the political violence that had already defined America. How are Black people still feeling those economic losses? And how has the pattern of political violence continued? Podcast editor Claire Thornton interviews him in 5 Things.

On the ground in Oklahoma

USA TODAY Network property The Oklahoman takes a look at how Greenwood continues to rebuild a century after the massacre and at how trauma spans generations. Read more

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In 'Repairing America' USA TODAY looks at nationwide reparations fight

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