History

Robinson is the author of “The Debt: What America Owes To Blacks,” where he lays out his case for government payments to black Americans. Conyers has repeatedly attempted to get legislation put into play that would set the stage for reparative payments to the descendents of slaves in the US. Both Robinson and Conyers try to hang their hat on the concept of “40 Acres and a Mule,” which is the idea of giving each freed slave forty acres of land and a mule with which to plow it after the abolition of slavery in the late 19th Century. This was a notion championed by General William Sherman after the Civil War. The notion was vetoed more than once by then President Andrew Johnson. Yet the misconception of a “promise” by the government to give forty acres of land to every emancipated slave persists today. On talk shows from coast to coast, people attempt to sell the sizzle of a payment in the form of land or money or both to the “oppressed black man” in America. Some have gone as far as to set up scams where they promise to go together to create a massive class action lawsuit to force the government to “enforce their own promise,” if only you were to pay in $49.95 or some other fee, “to help defray legal costs.” When more rational minds step into the debate to point out a number of fallacies, they are derided as sellouts, “Uncle Toms,” “Oreos,” and far worse names. They are told that they have forgotten who they are and that they only want to help the “White Devils” keep the black man down. Yet all the more rational are doing is to point out truths: there are no American slaves left alive today. There are members of other ethnic groups who have come to this country and have made (or lost) their way under their own power, and by their own actions. That if the government were going to give money to every descendent of every slave that remains alive, that the government would go completely bankrupt — quickly. And finally, that if the federal go…

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