Last Tuesday, The National Coalition of Black for Reparations in America, or N’COBRA, held a “Rally for Reparations” a the University of Chicago campus last Tuesday. According to the College Fix, they demanded the school make amends for ties with Stephen Douglas’s land grant, which he obtained using the profits from his “plantation.”
The students didn’t stop there – they then moved their cause to Chicago’s City Hall – where they held a press conference on the steps, listing their official demands while being joined by various other progressive campus groups.
“The University of Chicago is founded by slaveholders and the labor of enslaved people can actually be traced through the years,” said student Guy Emerson Mount. “The labor of enslaved people actually translates into buildings, endowments, and real hard material resources.”
The students told the Chicago student newspaper, the Maroon, they are not looking for a check but they do want to “establish a truth and reconciliation committee that would produce a comprehensive reparations program,”. They also requested a Community Benefits Agreement that would give students a say in any potential development(s) that happen in the University’s surrounding neighborhood.
They also state they want to review the University’s contracts for any contact with “slave policies,” including the University’s contract with the Chicago Police Department, which they say is designed to “keep people out rather than in.”
The students appear very confident that the University of Chicago profited from Douglas’s slaveholding yet it is unclear whether Douglas actually owned any slaves (though his wife’s family did). Douglas did advocate for the freedom to own slaves in newly-founded American territories and supported the “Dred Scott” decision, but also thought that the democratic process would eventually do away with the institution of slavery, and was very much so on the side of the Union in the Civil War.
This is a developing story.