Dr. John Hope Franklin, the wildly accomplished historian who documented Blacks’ place in the great American story, firmly believed in reparations — the idea that the descendants of slaves in the United States should be compensated for the centuries of free labor that enriched slaveowners and their descendants and the American empire. It is a fact overlooked by the recent flurry of mainstream media coverage commemorating his life work. (He died at the age of 94 late last month.) But it is no small detail.
Consider his response in 2007 to state legislators in North Carolina and Virginia who balked at apologies for slavery introduced by their peers. For him a mere verbal apology wasn’t enough.