Professors from Brown, UMass-Boston testify in D.C. about reparations and racial wealth gaps

digital sign showing money signs

By Peder Schaefer

December 7, 2022

WASHINGTON — College professors from Providence and Boston testified before a Congressional subcommittee Wednesday morning on the role of US financial institutions in the creation of racial wealth gaps caused by slavery.

Speaking before members of Congress, Seth Rockman, an associate professor of history at Brown University, and Dania Francis, an assistant professor of economics at UMass-Boston, discussed the role of slavery in the development of American capitalism and wealth disparities between Black and white Americans.

William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University, stressed that racial wealth gaps were caused by intergenerational transfers of wealth, with income differences having a “marginal” impact.

Francis — an economist — spoke in her testimony about how wealth disparities between white and Black Americans have existed since Emancipation. She said that in 1860, five years before Emancipation, Black Americans owned 2 cents for every dollar of white wealth, and that that number only increased to 4 cents for every dollar of white wealth by 1870, five years after Emancipation.