On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. That moment marked the United States of America’s military defeat of the Confederate States of America, a treasonous breakaway republic that, in the infamous words of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, was dedicated to keeping black Americans in bondage as human property for all time.
While the Confederacy was conclusively beaten on the battlefield, at a cost of 750,000 lives, the long shadow of slavery and white supremacy still hovers over American society more than 150 years later.
On average, white Americans have at least 13 times the wealth of black Americans. That astonishing wealth gap jumps to 69 times if car ownership is not included in the calculations.
Fifty years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, America’s schools remain racially segregated. The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of the 1960s are being undermined by Republican efforts to keep black Americans and other nonwhite groups from exercising their right to vote. The country’s neighborhoods are also racially segregated at levels akin to that of 50 years ago.
Roughly 2.3 million black people are in prison in America. Police continue to target black Americans for harassment, violence and other abuse. In many ways these outcomes are the American legal system working as designed. Modern policing has its origins in the slave patrols …read more