One Family’s Land of Opportunity
Play • 52 min

A family’s legend about "40 acres and a mule” takes host Kai Wright on a fact checking mission to the Mississippi Delta. He finds an unexpected solution to wealth inequality in the U.S.

We first told the Lester family’s story in February, when we began exploring the unfinished business of Reconstruction. Now, as the country transitions out of the chaos of the Trump administration, we revisit the story and reflect on the effort to bring about economic justice in the Biden era. 

Elbert Lester has lived his full 94 years in Quitman County, Mississippi, on land he and his family own. That’s exceptional for Black people in this area today, but at one time, Black farmers owned the majority of this land. What happened to change that? Kai’s reporting leads him to a question still at the core of our national political debate: Who are the rightful owners of this country’s staggering wealth? 

Companion listening from our archives: 

Who Owns the Deed to the American DreamA Secret Meeting in South Bend

“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.

The Mother Jones Podcast
The Mother Jones Podcast
Mother Jones
The Post-Trump Era Is Here: Inside Joe Biden's Historic Inauguration
Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Two weeks after an armed mob stormed the Capitol, the new president painted a picture of hope and collective effort in his inaugural address. His message sharply contrasted with former president Donald Trump’s dystopian “American carnage” speech from four years ago. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” Biden said in his address. “And unity is the path forward.” DC Bureau Chief David Corn and Senior Reporter Tim Murphy joined Jamilah King for live coverage and analysis of the event. David Corn was at the Capitol, where he witnessed a very different inauguration from ones he had attended in the past. There were no large crowds, but ubiquitous face masks, heavy security, members of Congress wearing body armor, even in the midst of the traditional pomp and circumstance. The US Marine Band played their trumpets and drums, the Capitol was bedecked in huge American flags, and the Clintons, the Bushes, and the Obamas were all in attendance. President Biden said he spoke with former president Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend. The inauguration is usually a passing of the torch, but since Trump boycotted the inauguration in a final venal, norm- busting gesture, the event had the quality of the nation turning the page and ushering in a new era. "We were literally standing where blood had been spilled, where violence had occurred just two weeks ago," says Corn on the show. "Yet democracy prevailed, she persisted as Elizabeth Warren might say, and we were here carrying out this grand tradition which has gone on for over 200 years." Jamilah asked Tim Murphy about the historical context, including Trump’s early escape from the city and non-attendance. “He’s a deeply petty person,” says Murphy, but still there is some precedent. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president has to attend the inauguration, and historically that hasn’t always been the case. John Adams didn’t attend Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration. And that’s the election that brought us the peaceful transfer of power that Trump brought to an end by inciting a riot on the Capitol.”
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