I. This Country Maintained A De Jure Racial Caste System That Brutally Enslaved African Americans For Over Two Hundred Years And For Nearly A Century Thereafter Deprived Them Of Fundamental Human And Civil Rights.

Race has been a critical dividing line in American society since the earliest days of colonial settlement. Nearly four centuries ago, blacks were kidnaped and forcibly brought to this country to be sold into slavery. For two and a half centuries, African Americans were held in slavery and deprived of the most basic human rights. There can be no meaningful evaluation of the need for race-conscious remedial measures without first understanding the fundamental role that slavery, racial segregation, and pervasive racial discrimination by public and private actors have played in denying generations of blacks social, political, and economic opportunity while simultaneously conferring significant advantages on whites. “[B]ecause there was slavery … because the vision of others was shaped by slavery, and because most African Americans still experience unpleasant reminders that we are the descendants of those who were enslaved,” we must understand and acknowledge the legacy of slavery until it ceases to`“constrict the freedom and opportunities of African Americans.”