By Ann Brown

August 22, 2023

The issue of reparations has been a topic of intense and heated debate and discussion in the U.S. for years, with advocates arguing for redress for historical wrongs and systemic racial inequalities. Dr. William “Sandy” Darity, a leading expert on reparations, recently appeared on a TV special focused on the concept of “40 Acres and a Mule,” exploring the need for reparations. The Aug. 20 episode was part of journalist Soledad O’Brien’s “Matter of Fact” TV series.

In 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, Union leaders met with Black ministers in Georgia to address the urgent financial issues of newly freed slaves and families. The result was the establishment of a promise known as “40 Acres and a Mule.” This promise was aimed at granting land to newly freed Black people, allowing them to claim up to 40 acres each, The History Channel reported.

However, the promise of 40 Acres and a Mule was rescinded after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 by the incoming president, President Andrew Johnson, who had been a slave owner. The acres of land that were meant to be redistributed to the newly freed population were returned to Confederate owners.

Darity and his wife A. Kirsten Mullen, with whom he wrote book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-first Century,” addressed the issue of the unfulfilled promise of 40 acres and the need for reparations on “Matter of Fact.”