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The 1619 Project Companion: Discussion: Session 2

This guide serves as a companion to discussions of "The 1619 Project," a publication of the New York Times Magazine, which marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Jamestown, Virginia.

Possible Reflection Statements on "Capitalism"

  • How was the expansion of the U.S. shaped and made possible by slave labor?
  • How much were you aware of the investments pre-civil war banks were making in enslaved people.
  • What impacts did slavery have on financial systems, both in this country, and across the globe?

Possible Reflection Statements on "How Slavery Built Wall Street"

  • What stands out for you regarding how enslaved people contributed to the construction of northeastern cities like New York City?
  • How did banks and other financial institutions profit from slavery, even after it was abolished in the North?

Supplemental Materials

Essays by Mehrsa Baradaran:

  • The Limits of Banking Regulation (pg.32)
  • Fiat Currency and the Civil War (pg.35 )
  • Cotton and the Global Market (pg.36)

The “1619” podcast – Episode 2: Matthew Desmond and Nikole Hannah-Jones talk about the economy that slavery built. (32:55)

Session 2 - Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Please note that The 1619 Project* aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.  This is a monumental piece of work that challenges what we’ve learned about our country and, by extension ourselves.  To get the most out of our engagement with this material everyone will need to prepare for the discussion sessions by reading assigned materials in advance.  I have listed suggested reflection questions to support focused small group discussions.  I look forward to our next meeting.

Kind regards,

Beverly Braxton

Session 2 readings (both assigned and supplemental) can be found here.  Scroll down to the page number listed by each reading.  Use any suggested questions  to track new information as you read.  Your notes may be useful for sharing during Breakout groups.

Assigned readings:

“Capitalism” by Matthew Desmond (pg. 30)

 “How Slavery Built Wall Street” by Tiya Miles (pg.40)

How did banks and other financial institutions profit from slavery, even after it was abolished in the North?

*The 1619 Project is a 2019 initiative from the New York Times Magazine timed to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of 20 Africans in Virginia who are believed to be the first enslaved Africans to arrive in North America.