Reparations and Equal Opportunity

10 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2012

Date Written: July 25, 2012


This paper offers a sympathetic interpretation of reparations claims made on behalf of African Americans and suggests how they could properly be honored. It reviews the federal government’s role in supporting racial subordination and its continuing failure to address the inequitable consequences, which public policy now largely ignores. It sketches a national rectification project, comprising a comprehensive set of public programs that would attack the persisting legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. The programs can be justified by the government’s duty to insure equal opportunity for our society’s children and, most urgently, by corrective justice, because the inequities are attributable to the government’s own policies.

Keywords: Reparations, African Americans, Slavery, Jim Crow, corrective justice, equal opportunity

Suggested Citation

Lyons, David Barry, Reparations and Equal Opportunity (July 25, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

David Barry Lyons (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-358-3622 (Phone)
617-353-3077 (Fax)

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