Racism, discrimination and slavery were major problems in the United States for over 300 years; and continue to impact African-American’s lives today. Slavery first began in the 1690’s when members of African tribes were stripped from their homes and taken to America on ships filled with soon to be slaves. Many slaves often died from disease, malnutrition, or suicide, in effort to avoid their future enslavement. After hundreds of years of slavery, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation making slavery illegal in the United States. Slavery continued on for many years; and racism still presents itself in today’s society and continues to limit and degrade African descendants.
Many people strongly believe that African-American’s should be recompensed for the suffering of their ancestors. In 2003, Chicago passed an ordinance forcing major institutions that conduct business with the city, such as banks, insurance companies, bond underwriters and other financial vendors, to research their history and determine any links with slavery. One major business that was forced to research their history is JP Morgan Chase and Co., the nations second largest bank. JP Morgan Chase was the first company to acknowledge their links to slavery. Two of JP Morgan Chase’s predecessor banks, Citizens Bank and Canal Bank, accepted slaves as collateral for mortgages and loans. JP Morgan Chase and Co. estimates that the two previous banks "accepted approximately 13,000 enslaved individuals as collateral and that the banks came to own approximately 1,250 enslaved individuals as a result" of defaults.
Another financial institution that was forced to dig up their history related to slavery is Wachovia, now known as Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is made up of over 400 banks that merged into one powerhouse. Chairman of Wells Fargo, Ken Thompson, recently apologized for their linkage to slavery. At the time Wachovia’s predecessor banks owned slaves, slavery was still completely legal. But, Wachovia was founded fourteen years after the 13th amendment was passed, which abolished slavery.
Even though Wachovia was not in existence yet, numerous banks that made up Wachovia owned slaves at the time such as Bank of Charleston and the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company.
The recent Chicago ordinance is only a minimal piece in the effort to force reparation for African-Americans. Many debates and protests have occurred as a result of the ordinance; and has stirred up the discussion about reprimanding African-Americans; and many groups and organizations are seeking compensation for their suffering. As a result, many companies and government agencies are being forced to cough up large amounts of money, subsidize programs and open scholarship funds for American-Americans. London law firm, Leigh Day, was hired by groups in the Caribbean area to prepare a lawsuit for the International Court of Justice against countries such as France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. ...