Epilogue: The Case for Reparations

  • Malcolm McLaughlin


In the first decades of the twentieth century, America was swept by an unprecedented wave of urban racial violence. Black communities came under attack by rampaging white mobs in city after city, large and small, North and South. Wilmington, North Carolina (1898), Atlanta, Georgia (1906), Springfield, Illinois (1908), East St. Louis (1917), Chicago (1919), and Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921), to name only half a dozen of the more severe episodes, all witnessed brutal racist outbursts. Over the course of this period, hundreds of black men, women, and children were killed, thousands were displaced, and millions of dollars worth of property— homes and businesses—were destroyed. These horrific urban attacks exposed how little meaningful protection the rule of law in white-dominated society offered black communities: white mobs were usually not restrained and, often, race riots were actively supported by the local police or National Guard. Against the background of a historic upsurge in lynching and the locking into place of Jim Crow segregation, the race riots of this era represented a further and brutal layer of white supremacist oppression.


Black Community State Legislature National Guard Black Resident City Authority 
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  1. Alfred L. Brophy, Reconstructing Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921: Race, Reparations and Reconciliation, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 102–119.Google Scholar
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    Sherrilyn A. Ifill, “Creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Lynching,” in Law and Equality, XXI, 2 (Summer 2003 ), pp. 263–311.Google Scholar
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© Malcolm McLaughlin 2005

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  • Malcolm McLaughlin

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