Redeeming the Promise of Abolition

Katherine Franke

Haymarket Books (Spring 2019)

Trade Paper • ISBN-13:9781608466245 • US $21.95 • 5.5 in x 8.5 in • 210 pgs.


Katherine Franke makes a powerful case for reparations for Black Americans by amplifying the stories of formerly enslaved people and calling for repair of the damage caused by the legacy of American slavery. Repair invites readers to explore the historical context for reparations, offering a detailed account of the circumstances that surrounded the emancipation of enslaved Black people in two unique contexts, the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Davis Bend, Mississippi, Jefferson Davis’s former plantation.

Through these two critical historical examples, Franke unpacks intergenerational, systemic racism and white privilege at the heart of American society and argues that reparations for slavery are necessary, overdue and possible.


“Katherine Franke argues for a type of Black freedom that is material and felt—freedom that is more than a poetic nod to claims of American moral comeuppance. Repair: Redeeming The Promise of Abolition is a critical text for our times that demands an honest reckoning with the consequences, and afterlife, of the sin that was chattel enslavement. It is bold call for reparations and costly atonement.”

Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America

“Katherine Franke is consistently one of the sharpest, most conscientious thinkers in progressive politics. In a time defined by crisis and conflict, Katherine is among that small number of thinkers whom I find indispensable.”

Jelani Cobb, New Yorker columnist and author, The Substance of Hope

Praise for Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality:

“A persuasive and provocative addition to scholarship on the history and the influence of marriage.”

Women’s Review of Books

“Rigorous, historical.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

“Even if same-sex marriage recognition does not exactly replicate the experiences of post-Civil War African American couples, the history of state-sanctioned African American marriage, by turns exhilarating and crushing, remains an important challenge to the dominant narrative that recognition is a pure good, as well as a reminder that there are always (at least) three parties in every marriage. And yet the romantic conception of marriage continues to peddle the idea that intimate relationships are the most private and personal of decisions made between two people.”

Times Literary Supplement


Katherine Franke is one of the nation’s leading scholars writing on law, racial justice, African American history, and sexuality. She is chair of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Her first book was Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality (2017, NYU Press). She is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University and Director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.



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