The blacks who "got their forty acres": A theory of black west indian migrant asset acquisition

Eleanor Marie Lawrence Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The impediments to property acquisition and market success among African Americans are a significant area of inquiry in legal scholarship. The prevailing narrative on the historical relationship between Blacks and property is overwhelmingly focused on loss. However, in the political science, economics, and sociology literatures there is a countervailing narrative of successful property acquisition and retention among what might be termed a "market dominant" subset of migrant Blacks. The most successful subset of Black property owners in the United States today are descendants of Black migrants who were enslaved outside the United States. These free Black migrants, overwhelmingly British subjects originating from the West Indies, are largely invisible in the legal scholarship. Questions have arisen in other disciplines about what differentiated this subset of Black people. Why was their experience of property ownership so different?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-88
Number of pages62
JournalNew York University Law Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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