Dr. Matthew Stanley, a history professor at Albany State University, Albany, Georgia, will present an online talk, open to the public, about Reconstruction on Feb. 26.

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In honor of Black History Month, Beaufort County Community College, Washington, will host an online presentation “Land Hunger: The Long History of ’40 Acres and a Mule'” at 11 a.m. Feb. 26

Open to the public, the presentation by Dr. Matthew Stanley can be accessed at this link: https://zoom.us/j/99043080667.

The failure of Reconstruction to provide formerly enslaved Black citizens with an economic foothold meant that many had no choice but to return to the plantations from which they were liberated. They had been granted political freedom but not economic freedom. A promise of Reconstruction had been to restore the dignity of work, but these situations of desperation meant Black workers never received a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and led to continued exploitation. Black laborers were often forced into debt from which they could not escape.  

“Forty acres” was a rumored hope that was never delivered. Promises of land were only that— a promise—and the wealth of land-owning white citizens and landless Black citizens started to sharply diverge, accumulating and stagnating, respectively, over generations into the present where we see drastic wealth inequality. According to the Brookings Institution, the median household wealth in 2019 for White Americans was $188,000, 7.8 times more than the median household wealth of Black Americans, which stands at $24,000. 

Stanley is an associate professor of history at Albany State University, Albany, Georgia. He is the author of “The Loyal West: Civil War and Reunion in Middle America” (University of Illinois Press, 2017), which won the 2018 Wiley-Silver Prize for best first book in Civil War history, and the forthcoming “Grand Army of Labor: Workers, Veterans, and the Meaning of the Civil War” (University of Illinois Press, 2021), which will be published in April.  

Stanley has also written on history and politics for publications such as “Dissent,” “Counterpunch,” “The Huffington Post” and “Jacobin.”  

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