If the influence of economic motives on the action of mankind ever had a clearer illustration it was in the modern history of the African race, and particularly in America.
I still saw slavery and the [slave] trade as chiefly a result of moral lassitude … . But apparently I did not clearly see that the real difficulty rested in the willingness of a privileged class of Americans to get power and comfort at the expense of degrading a class of black slaves, by not paying them what their labor deserved.
~ W.E.B. Du Bois (1954)