Interested Northside community members recently held a meeting inside Innerlife Chapel International to discuss the history of 40 Acres and A Mule, and what it means for the African American people today and how African Americans can pursue their inheritance for future generations.
James Alford of the African American Business League spearheaded the meeting to generate dialogue on how to claim and obtain what belongs to African Americans as promised to our ancestors back in 1865. The committee was established to address the HR 40 Bill submitted by Congresswoman Sheila Lee Jackson (D-Texas) to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans. The commission’s next steps are to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.
Historically, “40 Acres and Mule” was established when General William Sherman issued a special order (#15) in 1865 that allocated to newly freed Blacks, 400,000 acres of land, not more than 40 acres of tillable land per family. This meeting included General Sherman and 20 leaders of the black community who were ministers in Savannah, GA. General Sherman also ordered the army to lend the new settlers mules which is how the phrase. “40 Acres and a Mule,” came about. This land stretches from Charleston, South Carolina to the St. John’s River in Florida. However, Andrew Johnson overturned the order in the fall of 1865 and the land was returned to the original owners.’ Recently Senator Mitch McConnell disagreed stating those individual in which the promise was made are dead, but it’s the descendants that are entitled to receive recompense.
Mr. Alford shared that the value of that land today has an equivalency of approximately $1Million dollars per acre. To date research has been done by several entities: 10-15 Trillion per Duke University and per Citibank 20 trillion. Although these numbers are not 100% accurate – it is believed at minimum 5 trillion dollars is due. Committee member Debra Jackson remarked, “I would like the people to tract their lineage so when the time comes, they can be ready for the reparations payout.”
For details on the next meeting and how to get involved, contact Debra Jackson at (904) 235-3185.