Today’s scheduled congressional hearing on reparations is guaranteed to get people talking. Recently, the online political magazine Slate gathered four leading scholars — including Detroit Mercy’s Professor of History Roy E. Finkenbine — to discuss the topic. We thought it would be an interesting addition to Let’s Talk, our new series of essays, speeches and more from Detroit Mercy faculty, staff, students and alumni designed to spark discussion.
A U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee will hear testimony today on the case for reparations to descendants of slaves. Among those testifying will be award-winning author Ta-Nahisi Coates, who spoke at Detroit Mercy in 2017. His 2014 essay, “The Case for Reparations” included extensive research done by Finkenbine into 18th and 19th century discussions of reparations.
The current national discussion, Finkenbine said, highlights one important issue: The need to better inform the public. “One thread that I see throughout our chat,” Slate quotes Finkenbine as saying, “is the need to better inform the public about slavery, segregation, and historic inequality.”
Read the entire Slate discussion here.
Finkenbine is professor of history and co-chair for the History Department. He teaches courses in African-American history, modern Africa, slave resistance, the Civil War era, and the Underground Railroad, and serves as Director of the Black Abolitionist Archive. He received a Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University in 1982 and joined the Detroit Mercy faculty in 1996. While on the editorial staff of the Black Abolitionist Papers Project at Florida State University in the 1980s and 1990s, he coedited the five-volume Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865 (1985-1992) and Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation (1993). He is also the author of Sources of the African-American Past (1st ed., 1997; 2nd ed., 2004), as well as a dozen articles and book chapters on the black abolitionists and the Underground Railroad. He has consulted on museum exhibits, documentary films, and television programs on aspects of African American history. His work has been mentioned in Time, Atlantic, the Washington Post, and USA Today, as well as on NPR.
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