The Cost of Inheritance: An America ReFramed Special, is an hour-long documentary co-produced by WQED and the Center for Social Solutions at the University of Michigan, presented in partnership with the WORLD Channel and American Documentary.

Watch “The Cost of Inheritance” Online

The film premiered Jan. 8, 2024 at 10:00 p.m. ET on WQED-TV, PBS, the PBS app, and PBS YouTube.

Catch an encore broadcast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. ET on the WORLD Channel — available in Pittsburgh on broadcast channel 13.3, channel 473 on Verizon FiOS, channel 1013 on Comcast Xfinity, and

Watch the Trailer:

The Cost of Inheritance is presented by WQED and the WGBH World Channel series America Reframed. Building on key issues of diversity and democracy; slavery and its aftermath; and socio-economic indicators, this documentary puts real people and their family histories into the reparations debate. Personal stories, expert interviews and rich archival materials underscored by evocative music, weaves a narrative around the issue of reparations today so many years after the historical understanding of the end of slavery in America. Noted speakers address the cumulative impact that Reconstruction, Black Laws, Jim Crow, modern day violence, and discrimination added to divergent wealth trajectories and opportunities firmly rooted in the system of enslavement. Individuals seeking to bridge our human divide share their reparations quests and we begin to understand the myriad of initiatives already happening across the country on local, state & national levels to make reparations a reality.

The documentary is a co-production by WQED & the Center for Social Solutions (CSS) at the University of Michigan; Executive Producer: Darryl Ford Williams; Director: Yoruba Richen.


Video Extras

  • Director, Yoruba Richen
    Meet the Director

    Award winning filmmaker, Yoruba Richen, discusses her work on this new documentary and the importance of the work of reparations

  • Two men standing behind a fence with barbed wire

    Dr. Earl Lewis recognizes that Americans are split on the issue of reparations, but argues that past injustices did not end with slavery.

  • Ties to the land thumbnail
    Ties To The Land

    Meet Patt Gunn, Randy Quarterman and Sarah Eisner, all working to promote reparations and education.

  • Man in cowboy hat seated with a dog
    The Political Fight

    Can public policy address the historic call for reparations? With Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Historian Dr. Joe Trotter and Farmer/activist John Boyd.

  • Two Native American children
    Native Americans and the Boarding School Era

    Ricky White and Melody Staebner discuss the generational trauma brought on by the forced enrollment of Native American children during this painful era.

  • Germany and Reparations thumbnail
    Germany and Reparations

    After WWII, Germany was forced to pay reparations to victims of the Holocaust. Prof. Rita Chinn, University of Michigan, explains.

  • Jasiri X seated being interviewed
    Slavery Built America

    Artist and activist Jasiri X delves into Black contributions to America’s wealth and argues that reparations are long overdue.

  • Two Japanese children
    Japanese Americans and the Internment Camps

    Don Tamaki, attorney and activist, discusses the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and the reparations paid to the survivors.

  • Sheila Jackson seated being interviewed
    Working To Pass HR 40

    Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee discusses the fight to pass HR 40, a bill written to study slavery and develop reparations proposals.

  • Old photo of sign that reads We shall overcome
    The Aftermath of Slavery

    Dr. Joe Trotter of Carnegie Mellon University explains how the African American community is still grappling with the negative impacts of slavery on many of today’s issues.

Learn More!

The University of Michigan Center for Social Solutions has prepared tools to educate and inform on the topic of reparations. Click on the links below to research detailed case studies, explore the glossary and learn the terms used to discuss reparations more deeply; and, delve into informed questions for further conversation with our discussion guide.

Black farmer plowing his field LOC
Black farmer plowing his field LOC

The conversation around reparations is far reaching and widely covered in a variety of media:


Photo Gallery

African American Redress Network

Reparations Initiatives Across America

The African American Redress Network has produced a map where you can track historical eras, injustices and the work for reparations in individual states:

African-American Redress Network

Univ of Mich LSA logo


The University of Michigan Center for Social Solutions promotes academic research and social policy that serves the common good in four program areas: Diversity and Democracy; Slavery and Its Aftermath; Water, Equity, and Security; and The Future of Work. By applying rigorous scholarship to the real world, we offer tangible solutions to current problems, promote public good, and strengthen our global community.”

Our Partners

Visit Crafting Democratic Futures website

Funding for The Cost of Inheritance was provided by:




The Cost of Inheritance is a co-production with the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Solutions and is a presentation of WQED and the WGBH series America ReFramed.