The focus of this paper is to determine how Americans are to achieve justice for the descendents of slavery and survivors of involuntary servitude. Some of the concepts and models that will be used to make such a determination include transitional justice, pertinent United States documents that have rooted the ideals of justice in American society, and truth and reconciliation commissions. In addition to discussing why truth and reconciliation commissions are used today, two examples will be cited that highlight the reasons these processes will not work in an American social political context. Finally, a truth and reconciliation model that seems to be an appropriate fit within the American social political context is discussed, and contained herein. This paper further addresses some of the problems that have occurred in the United States because of the disregard for transitional justice, in the past and presently. One such problem that is prevalent in the United States is the pattern of race relations, separating large portions of society into Black and White. For example, in a study done by Bonetta and Blaine Hudson, they recognized that American society is not completely separated. However, they did notice two issues concerning the division of American society. One, there is a large White nation that has little or no contact across racial and class lines, or have little knowledge about people of color, except to fear and denigrate them. Two, there is a small African American nation that also has little contact across racial and class lines. They know little about, and often denigrate themselves. The self-denigration of a large portion of African American society is a direct result of slavery, which has left many African Americans with an indefinite identity and an inferiority complex. Slavery in American society has supported maintenance of these complexes in present day society. By holding a truth commission on slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, it will allow African Americans to gain some justice by legitimizing themselves with a history beyond that of slavery. In order to unite Americans, examples from other countries that have successfully utilized transitional justice methods may be adapted for use to aid America in reconciling with its legacy of the past. A commission must deal with these issues once and for all in order to start the process of uniting American society. Consequently, the method of transitional justice that should be used in the United States is an important issue in making sure justice is given to the survivors of injustice, while uniting American society at the same time.


Law Department

Degree Name

MA in International Human Rights Law

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Montforte, Tanya

Committee Member 1

Montforte, Tanya

Committee Member 2

Hill, Enid

Document Type



83 p.


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