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Righting Past Wrongs

Rappaport Center offers a panel to help untangle the knot of reparations.

Thomas Mitchell, Kamilah Moore, and Jeffery Robinson were among the five-member panel.   Photograph by Reba Saldanha

The complex and oftentimes polemical topic of reparations in the United States was under the microscope at a gathering of BC Law’s Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy on November 9. Prominent panelists provided insights and ideas.

Moderated by Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe, the panel featured Jeffery Robinson, Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor and CEO of The Who We Are Project; attorney Kamilah Moore, chair of the California Reparations Task Force; Michele Miller, a town councilor in Amherst, Mass., and co-chair of Reparations For Amherst; and BC Law Professor Thomas W. Mitchell.

Robinson provided an overview of the history of reparations in the US, referencing the compensation paid by the government following the Japanese internment, as well as the reparations Abraham Lincoln’s administration paid to some slave owners after the end of slavery. On the other end of the spectrum, Miller described current local efforts to engage the citizenry of Amherst in the conversation of racial inequality and reparations, while Moore offered a statewide perspective. Her California task force’s mission is to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans. For his part, Mitchell, who teaches and researches in the area of property law, tied past and present together around how subprime mortgages and historical housing inequality have disproportionately affected black Americans’ access to home ownership.

Professor Daniel Kanstroom, faculty director of the Rappaport Center, opened the program, entitled “Reparations: Current Progress and Controversies.” The Law School’s Black Law Students Association was a co-sponsor.

Photographs by Reba Saldanha