According to Four Hundred Souls, which historical problems facing Black Americans remain relevant today?

According to Four Hundred Souls, historical problems facing Black Americans that remain relevant today include an assault on voting rights, incarceration at disproportionate rates, and the devaluation of Black lives.

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According to Keisha Blain, an overarching historical problem that Black people in the United States continue to face is a political and legal system which is supposed to protect all Americans but which arose out of a context of slavery, in which one class of Americans had a lesser set...

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According to Keisha Blain, an overarching historical problem that Black people in the United States continue to face is a political and legal system which is supposed to protect all Americans but which arose out of a context of slavery, in which one class of Americans had a lesser set of rights. Under the umbrella of this legacy of an unjust system, writers of the essays chronicling the contemporary moment point to several specific historical problems that remain relevant today.

One, as outlined by Angela Davis, is a criminal justice system that remains weighed against Black people. Since 1994, this has taken form in the harsh penalties enacted in response to the "War on Drugs."

A second recurrent problem, discussed by Karine Jean-Pierre, is the war on Black voting rights. Especially since 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, when the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 voting rights act, voter suppression has been back in force. For example, a Black man named Eddie Lee Holloway was not allowed to vote in Wisconsin in 2016, replicating a historic situation.

A third problem, that of Black lives being held in disregard, is the subject of Alicia Garza's "Black Lives Matter" essay. Historically, it has been possible to kill Black people in this country with little to no repercussions, and this continued when courts acquitted George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin. This also was evident during hurricane Katrina in 2005, in which Black people, the elderly, and the poor died in greater numbers than other groups.

Blain concludes by noting that Black people's lives are far better than they were 400 years ago when they were enslaved, but also notes the continuation of such problems as the stripping of voting rights, the disproportionate incarceration of Black people, and the devaluation of Black lives as conditions the Black community is still struggling against.

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