Slavery Reparations Gaining MomentumBreaking News
Fueled by the work of scholars and lawyers, their campaign has morphed in recent years from a fringe-group rallying cry into sophisticated, mainstream movement. Most recently, a pair of churches apologized for their part in the slave trade, and one is studying ways to repay black church members.
The overall issue is hardly settled, even among black Americans: Some say that focusing on slavery shouldn't be a top priority or that it doesn't make sense to compensate people generations after a historical wrong.
Yet reparations efforts have led a number of cities and states to approve measures that force businesses to publicize their historical ties to slavery. Several reparations court cases are in progress, and international human rights officials are increasingly spotlighting the issue.
"This matter is growing in significance rather than declining," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and a leading reparations activist. "It has more vigor and vitality in the 21st century than it's had in the history of the reparations movement."
The most recent victories for reparations advocates came in June, when the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church both apologized for owning slaves and promised to battle current racism. The Episcopalians also launched a national, yearslong probe into church slavery links and into whether the church should compensate black members. A white church member, Katrina Browne, also screened a documentary focusing on white culpability at the denomination's national assembly.