U.S. Slavery Reparations Timeline: Everything You Need To Know - BlackOwned365

1783: America's first and probably only reparation recipient 

(The American Revolution Era)


Belinda Royall (also Belinda Sutton) was born in Ghana, West Africa, kidnapped, and enslaved by the Royall Family in Medford, MA. 

Throughout the 1700s and further, the Royall family generated millions from slave labor and was the wealthiest family in Massachusetts. So wealthy, that Isaac Royall Jr. left a will in 1779 bequeathing land to Harvard College (Later Harvard Law School in 1817). In his will, he also requested emancipation and "security" for Belinda one of his 64 slaves. With the support of anti-slavery activists, her petition was approved by John Hancock. She received an annual payout of 15 pounds and 12 shillings (~$1,235 Annually U.S. Inflation 2023).


1863: 40 Acres and a Mule, The Origin Story

(The Civil War Era)

Contrary to what most educators will have you believe; the Civil War's end was not a sweeping victory for the Union Army. The Union nearly lost to the Southern Confederacy. Wealthy Southerners who chose not to serve could select an enslaved negro to serve in their place. Middle-Class whites paid deferment fees. To recruit negros residing in the Mid-Atlantic region, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued temporary military orders on behalf of the United States Union Army. The Special Field Orders, No. 15 (series 1865) empowered the Mississippi Commander to temporarily confiscate 400,000 acres across the Mid-Atlantic states and redistribute 40 acres each to 18,000 newly freed negros. 

Under the pretense that these orders provided permanent land ownership, the commander gained the support of surrounding negro leaders and soldiers. President Abraham Lincoln filed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 (He was assassinated two years later). President Andrew Jackson issued the Amnesty Proclamation Act in 1865, snatching back all the land and returning it to any Southerner that took a "loyalty oath"!


1865: Birth of a Nation, From Slavery to Systemic Racism

(The Rise of White Supremacy)


The May 1865 Amnesty Proclamation Act gave payouts to white Southerners who suffered financial loss resulting from their former slaves being emancipated. The Act also allowed the "oath keepers" to return to Congress if they had left their position to serve the rebellion. It allowed Southerners to elect their officials within the new 5 districts. Most of the elected officials were former Confederate leaders who enforced "Black Codes". These state policies re-envisioned slavery by forcing negros into labor contracts & apprenticeships, sending them to prison at higher rates as free labor, and permitting white employers to whip negro laborers if they attained a judge-signed court order. Former confederates would also go on to found the domestic terrorist group the Klu Klux Klan in December of the same year.


1867: Reconstruction & Compromise, It was nice while it lasted

(The Reconstruction Era)

The 40 Acres promise is in the wind. In its wake are 4 legislative acts that get passed to protect the civil rights of newly freed blacks under the 14th Amendment and the Reconstruction Act of 1867. All people including blacks and their children are recognized as legitimate citizens, black men were allowed to vote (as of 1870 under the 15th amendment), and military troops were stationed in southern states to prevent future uprisings. Southern rebels lost the civil war and Southern democrats lose the 1877 presidential election. President Rutherford B. Hayes enters the White House under the 1877 Compromise (A gentleman's agreement of sorts). No written documentation. No legislative discourse. Southern democrats acknowledged Rutherford's presidency and he in return pulled all remaining troops out of the southern states. Occurrences that swiftly followed the withdrawal were the one-drop rule, the rise of lynching's & massacres in 1890, and the U.S. Supreme Court enforcing a new wave of black codes in 1896 (Jim Crow Laws). 


1965: From Jim Crow to Civil Rights Acts 

There is an abundance of books, documentaries, and movies that can provide context into what transpired over 100 years of Jim Crow policy. But in 1965, Jim Crow law is deemed unconstitutional with the passing of the Civil Rights Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson passes Executive Order 11246 to protect against discrimination in the workplace. If you previously worked in an office before the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have noticed a poster of the EEOC policy on the wall of the office kitchen.

The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 & 1968 enforced fair housing and anti-discrimination against race, religion, gender, etc. President John signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law one year later. U.S. Supreme Court passed a series of "Affirmative Action Acts" between 1972 - 1977. These laws expand on the protective rights for equal employment and opportunity. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismantled core elements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by allowing policies such as requiring voters registration and redistricting regions without federal approval.


1989: Introducing H.R. 40

(The Ronald Regan Era)

John Conyers is elected to Congress as a representative of Michigan in 1964. Conyers Co-Founds the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969, Sponsors the bill to establish Martin Luther King Jr's birthday as a federal holiday in 1979 (The bill is passed in 2006), and in 1989 he sponsored the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. This act today is commonly referred to as the House of Representatives 40 Bill or H.R.40. Similar to Belinda Royall - Sutton's petition, the bill's purpose is to outline the exploitation and treatment endured by African Americans during slavery in the U.S. The bill's duties go further to present financial gains in the U.S. from the exploitation of enslaved African Americans and recommend appropriate remedies. Conyers reintroduced the bill to Congress every year until his retirement in 2017 (He died in 2019). 


2017: Pick Up The Baton

(Post Racial Era?)

Three months following Covyers' retirement, Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee assumed the role of first sponsor for H.R.40. Lee has introduced the bill to Congress every year up until 2023. The bill now has 94 cosponsors. 


2023: Reparations, State Initiatives 

(Present Day)


California: In 2020, task force was formed in California to develop reparations at the state level. On May 8th, 2023 they completed their study and recommended $14T for 2.5M Black Californians. Final updates to the California bill will be complete by June 29th and the bill will be voted on after July 1st. 


New York: The New York State Assembly in Albany passed the reparations bill through the state legislature on June 7thThe bill has been submitted to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for review and consideration.


Illinois: The City Council in the town of Evanston voted to distribute $10M in reparations over the next 10 years to qualifying Black households who are confirmed descendants of slavery. Funding for the reparations payout will be allocated from taxes on the sale of medical and recreational marijuana. Qualifying residents must either have lived in or been a direct descendant of a Black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969, or that person’s direct descendant, who suffered discrimination in housing because of city ordinances, policies, or practices. Also, residents who also experienced discrimination due to the city’s policies or practices after 1969 can qualify. Each qualifying household would receive $25,000 to go towards repairs & payment on the property. 


Call To Action

Learn About The Movement: https://reparationscomm.org/events/

Track The Progress of H.R.40: https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/40?s=3&r=1

Send a message to Congress: https://action.aclu.org/send-message/reparations-slavery-now

Sign the petition: https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/reparations-african-slave


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