Intelligence Squared debate: Is it time for slavery reparations?

 NAACP National President Cornell Brooks
Then-NAACP National President Cornell Brooks, speaking to the people gathered at Progressive Baptist Church in St. Paul in July 2016.
Matt Sepic | MPR News 2016

Between 1525 and 1866, more than 12 million Africans were shipped to the New World as slaves. After some 200 years, slavery was abolished, and yet another century of Jim Crow, coupled with discriminatory housing and lending policies, contributed to its legacy.

Dealing with the relics of that stain on American history is part of the national dilemma. But exactly how to do it is the question; something lawmakers in Washington are also now debating. A top aide to President Joe Biden recently said that the White House will “start acting now” on reparations for African Americans. Some say it’s long overdue.

Reparations, they say, are important to start to address the moral injury slavery inflicted. Others say direct payments to African Americans will divide the Black community, exaggerate racial tensions and prove impossible to administer.

The speakers are:

  • Cornell William Brooks, professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and former NAACP President and CEO. He says reparations are the way to go.

  • Randall LeRoy Kennedy, author and law professor at Harvard University, argues that direct payments are not the most effective means of addressing the legacy of slavery, and that they could have unintended consequences.

The moderator of Intelligence Squared US debates is John Donvan.

Use the audio player above to listen to the pgoram.

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