William “Sandy” Darity Jr., economist and professor, Duke University
I wish that Radical Reconstruction had been made a reality after the end of the Civil War. This would have entailed the promised 40-acre land grants to the formerly enslaved, their right to full political participation, assurance of control over their children’s schooling, protection by the Union Army in the South, and the arming of the freedmen for self-defense.
Anna Della Subin, author, Not Dead but Sleeping
In 1937, a British colonialist in Kuwait was said to have dreamed of a gnarled, uprooted tree. A dream interpreter recognized the tree, and told him that the dream meant oil would be found at the site—leading to the discovery of one of the Earth’s largest oil reserves. One wishes he’d had insomnia instead!
Samantha Kelly, history professor, Rutgers
The invention of agriculture. Imagine: far less environmental degradation and income inequality, a shorter workday for all, a varied diet and possibly better health outcomes for certain communities, and a profound confidence that the future would provide. A world without industrial agriculture would pretty much be the Eden of the Bible. Hunter-gatherer life isn’t sounding so bad.