Norman Dovberg wrote in his Sept. 11 letter, “How Georgetown should have addressed its history with slavery,” that there “has to be a reasonable statute of limitations” on providing restitution for slavery. Perhaps, but we haven’t yet reached that limit. As long as we can identify the victims and the responsible parties, society must continue to correct past wrongs.
The cycle of poverty, joblessness, drug addiction, absent fathers, poor education and incarceration for African Americans is a legacy of slavery, and society has a responsibility to make amends. Georgetown University was not the only institution to profit from slavery. The entire U.S. economy — North and South — profited. Many descendants of Southern landowners owe their current wealth to slave labor. I am arguing not for cash reparations but for society to provide, through taxes, assistance for housing, education and health care to the descendants of slaves so that they can have opportunities to escape the chains of economic disadvantage.
Germany was sued and has paid reparations to many families of Holocaust victims. Sadly, too many families had no survivors. But we still recognize the rights of victims to recover their property.
We have to see the world through the values we hold to be true today and make amends for past wrongs. If we accept a statute of limitations, we overlook the very real impediments to the economic success of African Americans and Native Americans that remain as a legacy of slavery of blacks and genocide of Indians.
Dan Thompson, Silver Spring