With recent news the reparations movement is gaining momentum and after reading an article that chronicled some of the expulsions Black men and women were on the receiving end of along the “Mason Dixie line and into the Midwest” I was moved to revisit white land grabs in the U.S, the giving of land to whites and the benefits that have been afforded the recipients of those lands over the years.
Consider this, Franklin Raines while serving as the head of Fannie May gave a speech at Howard University in 2003 and in that speech he said this:
“If African-Americans had been allowed to keep the property that they owned in the 19th Century, they would have more than $12 trillion of property. And today it's $1.2 trillion.”
There is plenty of documentation of lands owned and being given to free Black men and women by the Freedmen Bureau. The Freedmen Bureau was established in 1865 as part of the war Department. The Freedmen Bureau “supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory.” The Bureau netted freed Blacks 160,960 acres of land in Florida and more than 350,000 acres of land in Georgia, The Southern Homestead Act of 1866 also netted lands for Free Black men and women before it was repealed the following year.
Since we have documentation of land being owned, purchased or given to Free Black men and women why is there no record as to how that land became owned by whites? Did those Black men, women and children just decide one day, let’s give our land to the good white folk? Or did something more sinister take place?
In their research the Washington Bureau of Cox News Papers (WBCNP) found that expulsions of Blacks were happening simultaneously as Blacks were purchasing and being given land. WBCNP suspects that the expulsions started in 1864 two years after the passage of the Homestead Act. While the Homestead Act primarily benefited European immigrants, some free Black folk were able to acquire land via the Homestead Act. The WBCNP also found that in Georgia, “an examination of county tax records and land deeds suggests that some black-owned land was appropriated by whites after the expulsion and was never returned.” I must ask the question, if documentation proves that the owners of land today are the descendants of those who “appropriated” (a euphemism for stole) the land from Blacks and the descendants of those Blacks can be found should not that land be re-acquired by the descendants of the rightful owners and all riches that have been acquired via the land be handed over to them as well?
We must not forget, land ownership has been the means by which many generations of whites have been able to send their children off to college, take loans out to open a business and or acquire more land. All these things are fruits of a poison tree. Brother Franklin words should resonate with all of us, the difference between $12 trillion and $1.2 trillion is $10.8 trillion. Imagine the possibilities; now imagine the transfer of those possibilities to whites and how it has benefited them.