Lehman Bros. Admits Slavery Ties

The city of Chicago has an ordinance that requires contractors with the city to disclose whether they have ever profited from slavery. Among the affidavits filed is one by Lehman Brothers, stating that the founders of the company, three brothers, bought at least one slave and may have owned more individually. The company was founded in Montgomery, Alabama in 1850. Of the 2,000 slavery affidavits filed to date, Lehman Bros. is the first to acknowledge the ties. Such admissions don't jeopardize the contract with the city--only lying on the affidavit will do that.

"I don't think it means that we're the only firm that has that part in our history. It just means that we took it very seriously and we're quick to disclose what we know," said Carole Brown, a senior vice president of the company and chairwoman of the board of the Chicago Transit Authority...."The Lehman Brothers in the 1850s is not the company that it is today," said Brown, who is black.

So, will the disclosure lead to reparations lawsuits?

The disclosure could encourage people to seek reparations from Lehman Brothers, experts said. "All of the efforts of the reparations movement ... have now paid off," Roosevelt University history professor Christopher Reed said.

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