Posted on February 28, 2005

Richmond Cuts Fiscal Ties To Slavery

Rebecca Rosen Lum, Contra Costa Times (San Francisco), Feb. 24

Richmond has divested its pension and investments funds from financial institutions linked to slavery.

The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday in response to the state’s Slaveholder Insurance Policies legislation, signed into law in 2000, which helps track what it describes as the “ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits in part capitalized insurers whose successors remain in existence today.”

“I can’t tell you how in other cities, this has been difficult to achieve, and that in itself says a lot about Richmond,” said Councilwoman Maria Viramontes.

Research shows that several major insurers, including Aetna, American Life Insurance Co., Baltimore Life Insurance Co., Chase Manhattan, and New York Life, wrote policies protecting slaveholders’ investments in the case of harm or death to slaves.

“We’ve found out a couple insurance companies had taken 1,300 slaves as collateral for loans,” said assistant city attorney Bruce Soublet. “Once you start talking about slaves, you’re going beyond African-Americans. They’ve discovered a company insured a ship of Chinese slave laborers headed for the U.S.”