Heirs property research

by James Lennox, AARN Student researcher

For the past semester I have been working on independent research study on heirs property. Heirs’ property refers to instances when there is no clear title or deed. This research has been performed in collaboration with AARN and Reparations4Slavery. Reparations4Slavery is a group out of Denver, Colorado, that focuses on involving white people in the process of reparations. One of the ways they do this is through their online portal that chronicles the history of racism in America, as well as modern forms of institutionalized racism that continue to harm Black communities across the country. My research will be used to update their portal on Black land loss, with a specific focus on heirs’ property. In addition, AARN is creating a repository of oral histories to chronicle reparation efforts.

I have been fortunate to perform oral histories with a wide range of individuals including victims of black land loss, a white reparationist, and an attorney with a focus in heirs’ property law. These interviews were a valuable experience that shaped my understanding of Black land loss and the forms of institutionalized racism that continue today.

Image credit: Ranells, N. (Aug. 31, 2021). NC Cooperative Extension, Wills & Heirs Property: Protecting Black-Owned Land.