In 1865, newly freed slaves were promised “40 acres and a mule.” Spoiler: It never happened. Instead, for the next 150 years black Americans were robbed of a fair share of the land they lived on. Black farmers now own far fewer acres than they did a century ago, while the racial homeownership gap is at its widest in decades.

Tufts urban planning expert Julian Agyeman and North Carolina State landscape professor Kofi Boone explore the history and suggest a 21st-century “black commons” – communal digital and land resources held for the benefit of all African Americans – might address this vestige of slavery.

Also today:

Matt Williams

General Assignments Editor

Former slaves harvesting for their own profit. Corbis via Getty Images

Land loss has plagued black America since emancipation – is it time to look again at ‘black commons’ and collective ownership?

Julian Agyeman, Tufts University; Kofi Boone, North Carolina State University

Black farmers own far less land than they did in 1910 and the racial gap in homeownership is at the highest level for 50 years.

Environment + Energy

  • Living near active oil and gas wells in California tied to low birth weight and smaller babies

    Rachel Morello-Frosch, University of California, Berkeley; Joan A. Casey, Columbia University Medical Center; Kathy Tran, University of California, Berkeley; Lara Cushing, San Francisco State University

    A new study finds an association between living near active oil and gas wells in California and low birth-weight infants, adding to findings elsewhere on health risks from oil and gas production.

Economy + Business


  • 5 reasons police officers should have college degrees

    Leana Bouffard, Iowa State University; Gaylene Armstrong, University of Nebraska Omaha

    When it comes to making law enforcement professionals less likely to resort to use of force, higher education goes a long way, research shows.

Ethics + Religion

Science + Technology

Arts + Culture

  • How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

    Verna Kale, Pennsylvania State University

    While the man the world knows as 'Papa' balanced the demands of parenting with his work, his letters and fiction offer a window into the depth of his paternal feeling.


Politics + Society

Most Read on Site