The Full Price of Freedom: African American's Shared Responsibility to Repair the Harms of Slavery and Segregation

292 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2010

Date Written: September 9, 2010


This dissertation explores the issue of reparations for black Americans for slavery and segregation. It addresses a substantial question of warranting ethical analysis unexamined in the existing literature: What responsibility do black communities have for making reparations for slavery and segregation? Without denying the significance of the traditional approach to the issue of reparations that focuses upon wrongdoers responsibility to injured groups, this query suggested a commonly neglected topic in reparations discourse - the appropriate role of injured groups in their own restoration and renewal.

In order to address the most signifcant injuries inflicted upon black communities, the analysis focuses exclusively on political, economic, and educational harms. The breadth of the injuries examined necessitated an interdisciplinary approach to the project in order to understand the extent and depth of the harms and the steps required for their repair. Accordingly, as a work of Christian ethics, the dissertation flows from an engagement with law, theology, sociology, and political philosophy as vital resources for ascertaining black communal responsibility for repairing the harms of slavery and segregation.

The theologoical insights of womanist scholars provide the foundation for constructing a framework for the remediation of harmed communities. This framework engages a communal perspective to recognize the harms and remedies for black enslavement and discriminiation. In conjunction with that framework, the dissertation expounds on communal self-love as the motivating force and the chief organizing principle supporting blacks' accpetance of shared responsibility for repairing the damages to black communities. The motivation for communal reparations adopted within the dissertation flows from a sense of self-love that embraces both the love of neighbor and the love of God.

A communal ethic of responsibility ultimately grows out of the theological analysis as a means of guiding reparative efforts for black communities. The dissertation then explores an institutional framework for reparations as the preferred means of embodying that ethic. As a result of the investigation, the dissertation proposes the development of black political, economic, and educational institutions guided by an ethic of communal responsibility as the ethical expression of black communities' obligation to repair the harms of slavery and segregation.

Suggested Citation

Waterhouse, Carlton Mark, The Full Price of Freedom: African American's Shared Responsibility to Repair the Harms of Slavery and Segregation (September 9, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Carlton Mark Waterhouse (Contact Author)

Howard University School of Law ( email )

2900 Van Ness Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics