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Equal Justice Initiative reports describe America’s history of racial injustice

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) released the newest report in a series on America’s history of racial injustice—from enslavement and racial terror lynching to segregation and mass incarceration—which reveal how that history shapes the criminal legal system today,

The Transatlantic Slave Trade traces the history of enslavement back to 1501, when Europeans started kidnapping and trafficking African people to the Americas.

Over the 365 years that followed, European and American traffickers forced nearly 13 million African people to endure the agonizing Middle Passage across the Atlantic Ocean.

At least two million people died during the voyage. Millions survived the traumatic journey only to find themselves trapped in a violent, race-based system of brutal bondage that enslaved their children at birth.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade was one of the most violent, traumatizing, and horrific eras in world history—but too few people have confronted this history truthfully.

The abduction, abuse, and enslavement of Africans by Europeans for nearly five centuries dramatically altered the global landscape and created a legacy of suffering and bigotry that can still be seen today.

After discovering lands that had been occupied by Indigenous people for centuries, European powers sent ships and armed militia to exploit these new lands for wealth and profit starting in the 1400s.

In territories we now call “the Americas,” gold, sugar, tobacco, and extraordinary natural resources were viewed as opportunities to gain power and influence for Portugal, Spain, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and Scandinavian nations.

Few Americans have even acknowledged how coastal communities in the U.S. from New England to New Orleans were permanently shaped by the trafficking of African people and the generational wealth it created.

Our latest report explores the origins of the myth of racial difference—a narrative of racial inferiority that defined Black people as less human than white people.

Rooted in the need to justify genocide and enslavement, this belief in racial hierarchy survived slavery’s abolition, fueled racial terror lynchings, demanded legally codified segregation, and continues to haunt our nation.

At EJI’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and in its series of reports on racial justice, we follow the myth of racial difference and its legacy from enslavement to mass incarceration.

Other reports in the series include Slavery in America, Reconstruction in America, Lynching in America, Segregation in America, Race and the Jury, Targeting Black Veterans, Cruel and Unusual, All Children Are Children, The Death Penalty in Alabama, and Illegal Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection.

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