Between 1525 and 1866, more than 12 million Africans were shipped to the New World and into bondage. After some 200 years, slavery was abolished, and yet another century of Jim Crow, coupled with discriminatory housing and lending policies, contributed to its legacy. Dealing with the relics of that stain on American history is part of the national dilemma. But exactly how to do it is our question; something lawmakers in Washington are also now debating. A top aide to President Joe Biden recently said that the White House will ‘start acting now’ on reparations for African Americans. Some say that’s long over-due. Reparations, they say, are important to start to address the moral injury slavery inflicted. Others say direct payments to African Americans will divide the black community, exaggerate racial tensions and prove impossible to administer.

Arguing that reparations are the way to go is Cornell William Brooks, Harvard professor and former president and CEO of the NAACP.

Arguing that direct payments to African Americans are not the most effective means of addressing the legacy of slavery, and that they could have unintended consequences is Randall LeRoy Kennedy, an author and law professor at Harvard University.