On March 24, 2015, the Forum for Scholars & Publics held a roundtable discussion with leading scholars about the question of Reparations and "Moral Debt" relating to the history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and other forms of racial discrimination. The discussion was moderated by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose June 2014 article in The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations" has recently helped spur on the debate about the topic. Panelists Martha Jones, Melissa Nobles, and Beryl Satter offered a range of perspectives on the topic.
Additional readings on the topic include an article by Duke Professor William Darity Jr. and Kirstin Mullen's "The Big Payback" (2008) , as well as Darity and Dania Frank on "The Economics of Reparations."
Ta-Nehesi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. He tweets @tanehisicoates.
Department of History and Law School, University of Michigan
Martha S. Jones is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History at the University of Michigan, and a member of the Law School's affiliated faculty. Her scholarly interests include the histories of race, citizenship, and slavery. Prof. Jones is the author of the critically acclaimed All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900 (UNC Press, 2007). Her current projects include two books: Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America and Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women. In 2013-2014, her work was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Humanities Center, where she was the William C. and Ida Friday Fellow. Her writings have appeared at cnn.com, and she tweets @MarthasjonesUM.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Melissa Nobles is the Department Head, and the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science at MIT. Professor Nobles’ teaching and research interests are in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, and issues of retrospective justice. Nobles is a graduate of Brown University where she majored in History. She received her MA and PhD in Political Science from Yale University. For more information and a full list of her publications visit her web page.
Beryl Satter's is a Faculty member at Rutgers University, where she is in the Department of History, the Center for Migration and the Global City, Graduate Program in American Studies, and the Program in Women's and Gender Studies Her first book, Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920 (University of California Press, 1999) examined the relationship between New Thought, a popular, proto-New Age religious movement, the late nineteenth-century women's movement, and Progressivism. Dr. Satter’s second book, Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (Metropolitan Books, 2009), won the Liberty Legacy Award in Civil Rights History and the National Jewish Book Award in History, and was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Ron Ridenhouer Book Prize. It told the story of Dr. Satter's father, attorney Mark J. Satter, who fought exploitative, racially based real estate speculation in Chicago, and the many community activists who continued this battle after Mark Satter's death. In the late 1960s these activists formed an organization, the Contract Buyers League (CBL), which consisted of African-American residents of Chicago's West and South Sides. The CBL fought redlining as well as the state and federal laws that enabled racially biased credit policies to flourish. Their efforts ultimately culminated in the passage of two landmark pieces of federal legislation in the 1970s -- the Community Reinvestment Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.