My alma mater University of Chicago was the scene of a curious event recently. Students held a “Rally for Reparations” to demand money for African Americans to pay the unpaid debt from the use of slave labor at the founding of the University of Chicago in 1856. Activists denounced the school as “drenched in the blood of enslaved African Americans.” The only problem is that University of Chicago is not related to the University of Chicago, which was founded in 1890. That did not seem to matter as part of the event.
Various groups like Reparations at UChicago, the UChicago Socialists and UofC Resists held the teach in with a local Black Lives Matter chapter, as reported by The Chicago Maroon. Obari Cartman, the president of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, called for payment of land, educational opportunities, and a student loan repayment system.
They cited the fact that the University of Chicago founded in 1856 was built on land donated by Stephen Douglas. Douglas’ money was based on property using profits from his Mississippi slave plantation.
However, UChicago had no relation to that school which was founded in 1856-57 but closed in 1886 due to debts and foreclosure: “The new university did not use or benefit from the shuttered institution’s land or its endowment.”
Nevertheless, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America demanded that Chicago establish a “truth and reconciliation committee that would produce a comprehensive reparations program” and that the city of Chicago “void all its contracts with the University until it complies with the ordinance and addresses the RAUC’s demands.”
This is like demanding reparations from everyone named Stephen Douglas regardless of the lack of any familial connection.