Testimony for this hearing: https://financialservices.house.gov/events/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=409969
The collective amount required to close the disparity for approximately 40 million black American
descendants of persons enslaved in the United States will come to at least $14 trillion. This is a sum that
cannot be met reasonably by private donors or other levels of government. If generous donors created a
fund to eliminate the racial wealth gap by contributing $1 billion monthly, it would take a millennium to
reach $14 trillion. The combined budgets of all state and local governments used to meet all of their
obligations amount to less than $5 trillion.
Financial institutions were key supporters and beneficiaries of American slavery. The full scope of
creditor-debtor relationships interlocked with the slave plantation system has yet to be documented
adequately. For the record details are needed about which organizations were the financiers for the
New England textile industry, which bank or banks had Brooks Brothers, producers of “plantation wear”
for both the enslaved and the enslavers, as a client, and who were the lenders to the southern planters
themselves. This will require thick archival research that has yet to be undertaken.
It is now well established that a number of existing insurance companies participated significantly in
providing slaveowners with contracts to protect them for financial loss in the event of death or damage
of their human property, particularly their highly skilled property These include New York Life, known as
the Nautilus Insurance Company in the antebellum period, Aetna, Baltimore Life, Southern Mutual
Insurance Company, the Loews Corporation, and AIG.
Lloyd’s of London and RSA Insurance Group the point before the overseas slave trade was declared
illegal, insurance companies routinely protected voyages to procure captive Africans. British insurers
figured prominently, especially Lloyd’s of London and the RSA Insurance Group , in the form of one of its
ancestor business, London Assurance.
During the course of approximately 100 white terrorist assaults on black communities from the Civil War
to the 1940s, black lives were taken and black owned property was seized or destroyed by the white
mobsters. Black property owners who lived through the massacres rarely received any form of
compensation, particularly from insurance companies with whom they held policies.
An estimated present value of $611 million dollars of black-owned property was lost during the 1921
Tulsa massacre. What can best be described as a “Negro clause” in the policies gave insurance
companies the basis for denying the massacre victims’ claims. The “…insurance companies fell back on
an exclusionary clause…that…said insurers wouldn’t be held liable for loss ‘caused directly or indirectly
by invasion, insurrection, riot, civil or commotion, or military or usurped power’” (Council 2021).
Author(s): William Darity Jr., the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, Economics, and Business at Duke University
Publication Date: 7 Dec 2022
Publication Site: House of Representatives, Financial Services Committee