Monday, January 31, 2005

The legacy of slavery

The Times as an interesting editorial today about the recognition by J.P. Morgan Chase of their participation in the slave trade: An Update on Corporate Slavery.

This comes from the website of J.P. Morgan Chase which also includes the research they did:
Recently, JPMorgan Chase completed extensive research examining our company's history for any links to slavery to meet a commitment to the city of Chicago. Today, we are reporting that this research found that between 1831 and 1865 two of our predecessor banks - Citizens Bank and Canal Bank in Louisiana - accepted approximately 13,000 enslaved individuals as collateral on loans and took ownership of approximately 1,250 of them when the plantation owners defaulted on the loans.

We all know slavery existed in our country, but it is quite different to see how our history and the institution of slavery were intertwined. Slavery was tragically ingrained in American society, but that is no excuse.

We apologize to the American public, and particularly to African-Americans, for the role that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank played during that period.

Although we cannot change the past, we are committed to learning from and emerging stronger because of it. Since these events took place in Louisiana, we are establishing a $5 million college scholarship program for students living in Louisiana.

Smart Start Louisiana will mirror Smart Start New York, an extremely successful program we created and operate in New York City. Through this program, JPMorgan Chase will provide an initial $5 million over five years for full-tuition, undergraduate scholarships to African-American students from Louisiana to attend colleges in their home state. Students will be selected based upon merit and need. In addition to receiving scholarships, the students will have the opportunity to intern at JPMorgan Chase during the summer with the goal of being hired upon graduation.

JPMorgan Chase is, of course, a very different company than the Citizens and Canal Banks of the 1800s. We are committed to creating opportunities for African-Americans within our own firm, and to supporting communities we serve through philanthropic programs focused on economic empowerment and education. For more information, visit the JPMC Today section of this website.

We also realize you may have questions about these research findings. This website provides further details about the research, methodology, and details of findings, including names of the enslaved individuals when identified, parish information and archival citations for those seeking to do further research.

Although much of the information is difficult to look at, we hope it will prove useful to those researching their ancestry, as well as for those seeking to learn more about this tragic period in our country's history.
What I think is important here is not only the apology, or the "reparations," but the way this kind of historical acknowledgement allows us to continually rethink our past and our relation to the past. While the people at J.P. Morgan Chase individually bear no responsibility for the evils of slavery, they do continue to earn benefits from slavery -- as do we all, to some extent. Slavery was instrumental in building up the wealth of this country, something we all are heirs to and beneficiaries of to this day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was bored in class and I wrote this, hopefully you are someone else will appreciate my sick sense of humor. If not then hopefully they will get mad and make a comment, either way I am happy. Anyway This is from your fateful Marine student, enjoy.
Oh btw, the chant is not mine, its from a book I have read but I just changed the name.(terry goodkind's series, Sword of Truth)

You are traveling through another dimension not only of sigh, sound, and mind but of imagination. There is the sign post ahead, you are at the George Bush zone. This is a zone beyond mere mortal thought, it is a zone built from the vision of god. Where men parachute with M4’s parachute from the sky bearing gifts of democracy and freedom. Elections are modeled after an ideal government long past it’s prime. And most importantly of all, all men are of the same color so that there is no political corrective-ness.
Yes ladies and gents, you have entered a time zone where terrorism has been defeated by declaring a war upon it and letting only a few good men die for the betterment of everyone. Now it seems the man wearing the ‘bible belt’ grew too obese and his belt snapped and is now lying across the world. Christ is now portrayed in every home, atop the TV to remind everyone of their sins as the watch their 999 channels of porn, talking heads, and heartless fake ‘reality’ drama. To remind us of our mission accomplished, every day at 4pm we turn towards the direction that Washington is and pray for 1 hour.
Master Bush Guide Us
Master Bush Teach Us
Master Bust protect us
In your light we thrive
In your mercy we are sheltered
In your wisdom we are humbled
We live only to serve
Our lives are yours
Glancing across this utopia, we look upon the middle east to find that everyone now has been politically corrected and wears the proper American fashion as illustrated by Paris Hilton and Jay Z. Women with their new found freedom have finally embraced the ideals of bulimia and anorexia all the while becoming consumer whores of the cosmetic and shoe industry. Men now worship the steroid built American sport All-Star athletes. The children in the middle east can finally look up to a decent role model, the Kennedy’s and their constant preaching’s of moral values, like not showing up in the political world until your dad dies...
As we are slowly brought back into reality a thought sets in, how in the world is Paris Hilton in the George Bush Zone? Or maybe a better question to ask is where was George Bush Senior? Does’t this fantasy world exist because he had to fill his shoes? Do not worry though my audience, for this zone is a land of fantasy. I mean surely, in a land of the blind, a one-eyed man could not be king…