One Family’s Land of Opportunity

One Family’s Land of Opportunity

By WNYC Studios

Notes from America

Monday, 30 November

A family’s legend about "40 acres and a mule” takes host Kai Wright on a fact checking mission to the Mississippi Delta. He finds an unexpected solution to wealth inequality in the U.S.

We first told the Lester family’s story in February, when we began exploring the unfinished business of Reconstruction. Now, as the country transitions out of the chaos of the Trump administration, we revisit the story and reflect on the effort to bring about economic justice in the Biden era. 

Elbert Lester has lived his full 94 years in Quitman County, Mississippi, on land he and his family own. That’s exceptional for Black people in this area today, but at one time, Black farmers owned the majority of this land. What happened to change that? Kai’s reporting leads him to a question still at the core of our national political debate: Who are the rightful owners of this country’s staggering wealth? 

Plus, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a labor economist and the former president of Bennett College, talks about the legacy of anti-Black terrorism in the U.S. and reparations.

Companion listening from our archives: 

Who Owns the Deed to the American Dream” “A Secret Meeting in South Bend

“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.

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