Reparations Due: Enslaved Africans Built The Foundations Of U.S. Economy

Wall Street in New York City
Shiavon Chatman
June 17, 2021

Slavery created the American economy and built Wall Street – literally. “Wall Street” itself was the name of the wall built by enslaved Africans to protect Dutch settlers! Is it time we get our due for this labor?

New York City’s financial district has long been the focal point of the U.S. economy and its power was built from enslavement. Banks received “slave deposits,” and even used enslaved people as collateral. This created centuries of generational wealth.

This had a much bigger impact on Black families than you might think.

Wall Street Banks, many of which still exist today, sold security packages, like insurance policies, that helped subsidize the expanding of plantations and protect against lost resources – i.e. enslaved people. 

They directly funded slavery – and it wouldn’t have been profitable or possible without them. And at times, they were even more active participants.

If a plantation owner failed to meet their loan obligation, banks would take possession of their collateral – enslaved persons. Banks were literally slave owners and traders! 

Is it time for them to pay up? When we talk about reparations, shouldn’t banks specifically be part of the conversation?

Banking has made many people rich, at the expense of Black people, for centuries. We need to have a BETTER plan for reparations coming specifically from banks, who participated and benefitted from slavery.

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