University of Virginia Historian Documents How Black-Owned Land Was Stolen

Andrew W. Kahrl, an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, who is affiliated with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African studies at the university, is using local tax records to document the history of racial discrimination and residential segregation in the state.

Dr. Kahrl is conducting research on how tax liens and tax sales became a tool used by predatory land speculators to acquire Black-owned land. “Many of these places were legally stolen from Black people by private investors working in concert with local officials,” Dr. Kahrl found.

Dr. Kahrl discovered that local officials assessed Black property owners at highly inflated rates in an effort to tax them off the land. “This practice was pervasive,” Dr. Kahrl said. “It was something that was taking place throughout the South and it is clear that it is discriminatory in nature. African-Americans were consistently taxed higher on their property than White homeowners and landowners in the same neighborhood.”

In some states, if the Black landowners missed a tax payment, a lien would be put on the property – and the lien or the property would eventually be sold at a tax sale, where speculators could purchase the debt, add legal fees to it and eventually seize the property for much less than it was worth.

Dr. Kahrl is the author of The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Alcorn State University Recruited for Federal Student Pathway Program for Careers in Public Service

The Pathway Public Service Program was established in 2019 to develop the next generation of diverse, qualified, and motivated public health servants. Over the past five years, the program has hired over 100 student interns.

Five Black Scholars Selected for New Faculty Positions

The five Black scholars who aer taking on new roles are Khadene Harris at Rice University in Houston, Nakia Melecio at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Bettina Drake at Washington University in St. Louis, Arlette Ngoubene Atioky at Goucher College in Maryland, and Kandi Hill-Clarke at the University of Memphis.

Getty Images to Preserve Digital Photo Archives at Delaware State University

Currently, Delaware State University's photo archives contain thousands of photographs taken over the course of the university's 133 year history. Thanks to a new partnership with Getty Images, those images will be digitized and made available on gettyimages.com.

Porché Spence Recognized for Outstanding Commitment to Advancing Diversity in Ecology

Dr. Spence currently serves as an assistant professor of environmental studies at North Carolina A&T State University. Throughout her career, she has developed several educational programs geared towards introducing students of color to environmental science fields.

Featured Jobs