Thursday, June 02, 2005

Disclosure: Wachovia bank released a report yesterday disclosing past ties to slavery. It details profits made by taking slaves as collateral for loans in the antebellum south. Well, Wachovia didn't make the profits, since it didn't exist as such. But the various mergers and acquisitions over the past 200+ years that make up Wachovia as we know it included Banks such as the Bank of Charleston and the Georgia Railroad and Banking Co., and they profited from slavery.

What made Wachovia go into soul searching mode, you ask. Well, personal shame and guilt on the part of CEO Ken Thompson might be one reason. But it's not.

Wachovia said it prepared the report to comply with municipal laws requiring companies seeking city business to acknowledge any profits from slavery. Chicago passed the first such law in 2002; Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles and other cities have followed.

The company filed its findings with the city of Chicago on Wednesday. It has also posted the complete document on its Web site,

You may also wonder what Wachovia is planning to do about their spotty past. Open their wallets, is, of course, the answer.

Wachovia becomes the second major bank to disclose ties to slavery under Tillman's prodding.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in January that two Louisiana banks loosely tied to the modern bank accepted slaves as loan collateral. The company established a $5 million scholarship fund for African American students from the state.

Wachovia said it was not prepared to announce a specific financial commitment Wednesday, but it pledged to spend time and money educating people about the results of the research. The company will not attempt to target descendants of specific slaves because the records rarely include even first names.

This is reparations sneaking in the back door. I wonder if Chicago, L. A., Detroit and Philly will extend this rule to companies not based in the U.S. or, for that matter, to foreign governements that allowed and profited from slavery, including those African nations that profited from selling their brothers and sisters into bondage.

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