Reparations to Blacks for Slavery

Letter 1

From: johnf
Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2019 11:07 AM
Subject: American Slavery Reparations

Hello Dr. Block,  I read with great interest your article “Return of Stolen Property: A Libertarian Case for Reparations”.  I was truly surprised at the conjunction of Libertarian philosophy and the topic of reparations.  My BonaFides are voting Libertarian for the last 30 years, read most of Sowell’s work, and have been an avid reader of Dr. Williams for at least 15 years.  I even wrote in his name for President the year I could not vote for the “libertarian” ex-congressman from California.   I even sent an email to Dr. Williams telling him of my vote so that I could brag to all of my Progressive friends that I had voted for a black man.  They just assumed it was Obama.

As a Libertarian, I very much agree with your premise having to do with property rights.  However important property rights are in our society, they are not widely appreciated and simply taken for granted.  My “lightning bolt on the road to Damascus” came this year as I was trying to understand the deep cultural differences in our society and the threat they pose to our future freedoms. For me, the one single idea that does make us a shining city on the hill is the concept of “equal opportunity” for all citizens.  For me, the vision of a 7-year-old black child in any inner-city all over the country is simply NOT going to have an equal opportunity.  In fact, as Walter Williams often points out, educational opportunities for black children have become much worse since even his time.   And, I believe this is a primary cause of the cultural divide that will not lessen until we can offer better educational learning opportunities.  That is where I hope a national discussion on reparations can be effective and gain support from a much wider proportion of society.  As a teacher, I am guessing you will understand my thought on this matter.

I am writing and seeking your interest and help regarding slavery reparations in America.  We are forming a nonprofit organization that will create an opportunity for all people of goodwill to finally have a long-needed national public conversation about reparations.  We want to challenge our society’s assumptions, beliefs, and expectations about reparations.  More information can be seen at

We want to help heal the scars of racial bondage and repair the legacy of slavery in the United States.  We strongly feel the US needs to address its past history of slavery.   Reparations are an important issue needing honest compassionate engagement by all people in our society.   We understand reparations cannot change the past but they can certainly affect the present.  There remain today many examples of cultural and economic racial divisions in America. People of honest intent recognize wide disparities still exist today in economics, criminal justice, and educational opportunities.

There are many current actions that would go a long way toward overcoming America’s legacy and would benefit African-Americans in substantial ways.  Those actions include, but not limited to, criminal-justice reform, job training, college scholarships, and inner-city K-12 education reforms.  We believe these reforms for poorer African-Americans could be transformative steps toward the equal opportunity promised by our founders.  Reparations could be a recognition we can do better as a society of believers in equal opportunities for all.

Every long journey starts with a single step.  We desire to move beyond questions of past slave-holders and slavery victims.  They no longer exist, but we know there is a current insistent and obvious need for reconciliation actions.  America needs to have a responsible public conversation about reparations.  I am asking for your thoughts, suggestions, and help.

Please share our efforts with others who may have an interest.

More information is on the links below.

My contact information is also included.

Best Regards,

John Flanagan

American Slave Reparations

Letter 2

From: Walter Block []

Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2019 12:43 PM

To: johnf

Subject: RE: American Slavery Reparations

Dear John:

Thanks for your kind words.

Hopefully, you’ll excuse me for very slightly disagreeing with you on a few points.

I don’t think there’s any need to  “heal the scars of racial bondage and repair the legacy of slavery in the United States.” My reason for saying this? The publications of Sowell and Williams and Charles Murray too. In their view, which I think is correct, the present plight of the black community has nothing to do with any vestige of slavery in the US.

The reason I support reparations has nothing to do with any of that. It stems from my concern for libertarianism, private property rights, return of stolen property, etc. Here are my pubs on this topic:

Alston and Block, 2007; Block, 1993, 2001, 2002; Block and Yeatts, 1999-2000; Crepelle and Block, 2017

Alston, Wilton D. and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Reparations, Once Again.” Human Rights Review, Vol. 9, No. 3, September, pp. 379-392;

Block, Walter E. 1993. “Malcolm X,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 18-19;

Block, Walter E. 2001. “The Moral Dimensions of Poverty, Entitlements and Theft,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 83-93;; Search for “Walter Block” under “Authors” here:

Block, Walter E. 2002. “On Reparations to Blacks for Slavery,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-September, pp. 53-73;

(David Horowitz, Randall Robinson)

Block, Walter E. and Guillermo Yeatts. 1999-2000. “The Economics and Ethics of Land Reform: A Critique of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s ‘Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform,’” Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 37-69;

Crepelle, Adam and Walter E. Block. 2017. “Property Rights and Freedom:  The Keys to Improving Life in Indian Country.” Washington & Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Vol. 23, Issue 2, Article, 3, pp. 314-342;

Best regards,


Letter 3

From: johnf

Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2019 1:46 PM

To: ‘Walter Block’

Subject: RE: American Slavery Reparations

Walter,  thank you for your reply and reading sources.  I will read them with interest.

From the titles, I now understand your focus on property rights.  My only problem with this focus is the same problems that occur when the focus is on cash transfers.  The same questions and mental roadblocks occur as I am sure you are aware.  I have developed a unique way of framing discussions with people regarding reparations.  Most people, are very negative about cash transfers.  I try to reframe the discussion by first asking them what they understand about reparations.  Almost all people will say initially they are against transferring money to anyone and for many legitimate reasons.  I then ask them if they believe there might be some fundamental differences in our cultures that could be lessened with better access to education or earning opportunities.  Most people of goodwill agree and I now have an opportunity to discuss reparations with an open mind.

As you say, there is a clear and “present plight in the black community”.   I am seeking a way to lessen and minimize the cultural divide in our communities.  Cultural warfare, whether real or political, is a real danger to diminish or destroy property rights.  We are not in disagreement, just trying to accomplish the same goal using different tools.   I want as many people on the “change bus” as possible.  This requires “buy-in” from many belief structures.  Just as with Libertarians, there are many flavors of belief.

My very best regards to you.  Thank you again for all of your efforts.


Letter 4

From: Walter Block <>

Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2019 4:05 PM

To: johnf

Subject: RE: American Slavery Reparations

Dear John:

We agree that there is a “present plight in the black community.” My solution for it is to get rid of the governmental causes of it: welfare, minimum wage, drug laws, food stamps, affirmative action, etc.

I think very few black people will be able to prove family connection to particular plantations. If they can, they should receive part of the lands from the present, not cash transfers (unless agreed upon).

Best regards,


Letter 5

From: johnf

Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2020 4:46 PM

To: ‘Walter Block’ <>

Subject: RE: American Slavery Reparations

Hello Walter,  Yes, you may use my name and use anything I have said in previous correspondence in your blog.

From your responses, I can tell you we are “brothers from different mothers”.   I am a 35-year Libertarian voter who has always pushed for a government small enough that it can be drowned in the bathtub if necessary.  Changing cultural expectations about personal responsibility is the only long term solution for all citizens regardless of ethnic background.

My efforts regarding reparations have only to do with a recognition that the society I live in right now as presently constituted does not offer the same opportunity to a 7-year-old living in an inner-city and starting out in school.  We probably agree on that problem, and as to what the major reasons are for that lack of opportunity.  My goal was simply to open up a discussion that is the single most important failure in our society.  Allowing educational opportunities for all citizens equally.

I am quite aware of the deep divisions within the black community about family connections and origins.  They are only divisions in the black community because Reparations are not a serious thought in the wider communities.  My goal is to reframe the discussion and find some common ground that can allow necessary changes in the larger common society.

We are on the same bus Walter.  Good luck in your efforts at “Candle Lighting”.  Please send a note when you publish your blog.


Poverty and pride are devoted blood brothers until one always and inevitably kills the other.

John Flanagan


5:13 pm on April 29, 2020