The 40 acre plan was inspired by all of these events.
"We don’t need empty promises of reparations or just more conversations. We need action with acceptance of our proposals and presentations."
- Allen Thornton CEO
On 1865 the Civil War was close an end. The Maj. Gen. William Tecunseh Sherman met with 20 Black ministers on the second floor of his headquarters in Savannah, Ga. On the agenda were pressing questions: How would the country provide for the protection of thousands of Black refugees who had followed Sherman’s army since it invaded Georgia? How would thousands of newly freed Black people survive economically after more than 200 years of bondage and unpaid labor?
Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, confiscating Confederate land along the rice coast. Sherman would later order “40 acres and a mule” to thousands of Black families, which historians would later refer to as the first act of reparations to enslaved Black people. But the order was reversed months later, the land given to Black families was rescinded and returned to White Confederate landowners. More than 100 years later, “40 acres and a mule” would remain a battle cry for Black people demanding reparations for slavery.
In the Jim Crow South of the late 1800s, Oklahoma represented "a promised land". Black people who had been enslaved by Native American and brought with the them to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, as well as their descendants, were given allotments of land by the federal government following the Civil War.
In the early 1900s many Black families were lured by the discovery of oil and the abundance of land in Tulsa and moved in to set their businesses. This land, the Greenwood District, grew into an economic haven within the rigidly segregated city. It was home to an array of mom-and-pop operations and small businesses including grocery stores, restaurants, theaters, beauty salons and barbershops as well as professional service providers like doctors, lawyers and pharmacists.
As Greenwood prospered, different attacks on Black communites were perpetrated. Outside of Greenwood, Tulsa was a lawless city where lynchings took place the Ku Klux klan had presence. On May 31, 1921 a 16-hour rampage in which white Tulsans burned 35 city blocks and more than 1,200 residences and injured hundreds. Johnson said it’s almost impossible to know how much wealth was lost, but that conservative estimates put the damage at $25 million in today's money. Black Tulsans were unable to receive any insurance money because the massacre was labeled a "riot."
Nevertheless, Greenwood was rebuilt within five years, by the mid-1940s, 200 Black-owned and operated businesses had returned to the city. Nearly one hundred years later, the community is seeking to revive the spirit of Black Wall Street through the Centennial Commission.
An African farmer who heard tales about other farmers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales exited him, he sells his farm and spedns the rest of his life wandering the African continent searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm suddenly finds a bright flash of blue and red light from a stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. Several weeks later a visitor picked up the stone, looked closely at it, hefted it in his hand, and nearly fainted. The farmer had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered.
The farm the first farmer had sold, so that he might find a diamond mine, turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent.
The moral of the story is: before you go running off to what you think are greener pastures, make sure your own is not just as green, or even greener. Besides, while you’re looking at other pastures, other people are looking at yours.
Robin Hood effect is when the less well-off gain economically at the expense of the better-off. In a Robin Hood effect, income is redistributed so that economic inequality is reduced. For example, a government that collects higher taxes from the rich and lower or no taxes from the poor, and then uses that tax revenue to provide services for the poor, creates a Robin Hood effect.
A Robin Hood effect can be caused by market-based phenomena or government economic and fiscal policies, not all of which are intentionally aimed at reducing inequality. Regardless of the cause, virtually any change in an economy's status quo can result in the redistribution of income; when that redistribution is in favor of lower-income people, that is a Robin Hood effect.
The Underground Railroad was a network of people, African American as well as white, offering shelter and aid to escaped enslaved people from the South. It developed as a convergence of several different clandestine efforts. The exact dates of its existence are not known, but it operated from the late 18th century to the Civil War, at which point its efforts continued to undermine the Confederacy in a less-secretive fashion.
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them. Fugitive enslaved people were typically on their own until they got to certain points farther north.
People known as “conductors” guided the fugitive enslaved people. Hiding places included private homes, churches and schoolhouses. These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.”