“It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.”
Washington, D.C. (June 2, 2014)— Just days before the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Atlantic National Correspondents Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jeffrey Goldberg will sit down to discuss “The Case for Reparations,” Coates’ powerful cover story in the magazine’s June issue on Thursday, June 12 at 7PM at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. The product of nearly two years of reporting, Coates’ piece—released May 22 to overwhelming reader response and critical praise—argues for America to reckon with the “moral debt” it has accrued: first for centuries of slavery, deepened by segregation, discrimination, and racist housing policies that persist to this day.
The hour-long discussion will focus on the narrative Coates weaves in “The Case for Reparations,” and what the public response to his story says about the country’s readiness to contend with the consequences of a history of racism. The focus of his piece is Chicago’s West Side; he traces that neighborhood’s skyrocketing poverty, infant-mortality, unemployment, and homicide rates to the redlining officially mandated by the Federal Housing Administration after World War II. In moving interviews, Coates documents the predatory loans that were the only choice available to would-be black homeowners in Chicago—and the countermovement, the Contract Buyers League, that sprung up in the late 1960s seeking, in essence, reparations.