Slavery ended in the 1860s. Why hasn’t the wealth gap closed for Black Americans? – Marketplace – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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Demonstrators marched Friday in Newark, New Jersey, to celebrate Juneteenth and demand reparations for Black Americans. Structural and legal barriers have limited Black people’s opportunities to build wealth. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved Black people in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation, two years after it was issued. It marks the end of slavery in the United States, when white slave owners profited from the coerced, unpaid labor of Black Americans. And while the emancipation itself is nearly 160 years old, the economic emancipation of Black Americans is an ongoing story.

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that in 2019, for every $1 of wealth belonging to white Americans, Black Americans had 17 cents. So why has this wealth gap persisted for over a century and a half since the end of slavery?

Darrick Hamilton is the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Race, Power and Political Economy at the New Sc


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