Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Trevon Logan and William Darity Jr.

Look What Has Been Taken From Black Americans

One 1919 riot in rural Arkansas cost Black farmers more than $10 million.

Whose cotton is it?

Whose cotton is it?

Photographer: Russell Lee/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Americans are learning more and more about their country’s tragic racial history — about the myriad Black lives and livelihoods that have been destroyed and stolen, from the days of slavery to the death of George Floyd. But how, as part of any effort at conciliation, can our nation place a value on what has been taken?

The example of one little-known event — the Elaine, Arkansas massacre of 1919 — offers some insight.