If all that white guilt is getting to you, like it is to progressives, then get out your wallet. Reparations are expensive. Even the $1.7 million the Virginia Theological Seminary set aside may not be enough to compensate the descendants of the slaves that worked on its campus.
The tiny Episcopal Seminary in Virginia has set up a first of its kind reparations fund, as an effort to pay back injustices to any slaves in the area.
“As we seek to mark Seminary’s milestone of 200 years, we do so conscious that our past is a mixture of sin as well as grace,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary’s dean and president. “This is the Seminary recognizing that along with repentance for past sins, there is also a need for action, “ he continued.
“As far as I know this is a first for any academic institution in the United States,” said William A. Darity Jr., a professor and expert on reparations at Duke University. Other colleges have acknowledged their role in slavery or have offered scholarships to descendants.
Nearly two million dollars might not be enough. The research hasn’t been done yet. A task force will be formed to find the descendants that worked on the campus of less than 200 students.
Francis Scott Key was a co-founder, In 1823, of this seminary of the Episcopal church. Slave labor was used for the construction. After slavery ended, students were segregated based on race until 1951.
As reported by Curtis Prather, the seminary’s director of communications, “our first African American student was John T. Walker, who was admitted in 1951. Prior to that, African American students studied at Bishop Payne Divinity School.” Walker became the first African American bishop in the Episcopal Diocese in Washington.
Reparations has become a hot button discussion in recent years in colleges as well as in politics. Darity agrees with the progressive view that anything they can offer still isn’t enough.
“What complicit institutions should do is use their resources to craft a lobbying organization that would put before Congress the case for reparations for the black descendants of all persons who were enslaved in the United States,” Darity noted.
Thomas Craemer is a scholar of reparations and race relations at the University of Connecticut. He also indicates that $1.7 million is only a drop in the bucket. Still, the VTS fund can be a flagship for the movement.
“What I would highlight is the fact that this is the first time that members of an organization associated with slavery (that is, representatives of the perpetrating side) have taken it on themselves to fund reparations to the direct descendants of the enslaved,” Craemer said.
This VTS approach is different, it’s already funded. “We do want to honor those who worked in this place and we want to provide financial resources for their descendants,” Prather said.
The Episcopal Church itself is led by a descendant of slaves, the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. It’s good that the question of “how much is enough” is brought up, because the amount could go on for eternity.
“Though no amount of money could ever truly compensate for slavery, ” said the Rev. Joseph Thompson. His office of Multicultural Ministries at VTS will administer the fund. “The commitment of these financial resources means that the institution’s attitude of repentance is being supported by actions of repentance that can have a significant impact both on the recipients of the funds, as well as on those at VTS.”
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