Boston Church Leaders Demand $15 Billion in Reparations from White Churches

$15 billion in reparations. That’s the amount that Boston Church Leaders have demanded from “white churches” as compensation for their involvement in the slave trade. This has caused anger from certain factions, but many are urging the city churches to pay up. Here’s the full story.

Demand for Reparations

“Black people, the descendants of slavery, have been washing the feet of our oppressors for well over 400 years. Now it’s time for you to wash our feet,” Danielle Williams, the director of the activist group Prophetic Resistance Boston, announced at a press conference on Saturday.

“The descendants of slavery, we want our reparations. We want it now,” she continued to say to a large crowd gathered inside the Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Black and white clergy leaders from across the city of Boston gathered for this press conference, organized by the Boston People’s Reparations Commission – a lobby group that’s pushing for the city to create multiple initiatives to address its long history of slavery.

The Boston People’s Reparations Commission

The head of the commission, Reverend Kevin Peterson, hosted the conference. He called “on the white churches in Boston to join us in supporting a black reparations movement.” His hopes were that these churches would “not be silent around this issue of racism and slavery” and would work towards an amenable solution.

16 black and white clergymen signed the commission’s letter, which, according to the Boston Globe, offered suggestions on how the $15 billion in reparations could be paid. 

Initiatives for Reparations

Cash for Boston’s black residents was a priority, but affordable housing and backing new “financial and economic institutions in Black Boston” were also top priorities. During the press conference, Peterson advocated that the $15 billion reparations package be divided between those three initiatives at $5 billion each.

$15 billion would be more than three times Boston’s annual budget, which is around $4 billion.

“We point to them in Christian love to publicly atone for the sins of slavery,” Peterson said before asking them to commit to a process of reparations “Where they will extend their great wealth – tens of millions of dollars among some of those churches – into the black community.”

Historical Ties to Slavery

Boston churches have a long and dark history with the slave trade. Many churches owned slaves – both clergy and parishioners. Some individual churches possessed hundreds of slaves, leading to estimates that the total number owned solely within the ministry reached the thousands.

The letter explicitly names four Boston churches, Arlington Street Church, Trinity Church, Old South Church, and King’s Chapel – all built in the 17th and 18th centuries when the slave trade was rampant. These churches, however, are not shying away from their past – many of them have conducted research into their historical ties with the slave trade.

Arlington Street Church has, in the past, documented its close ties with the slave trade. Trinity Church, in 2014, put out a comprehensive history of its ties with racism and slavery, with an open call for ways to make reparations.

Efforts to Confront Historical Wrongs

King’s Chapel undertook research and discovered that over the span of hundreds of years, ministers and church members had collectively owned 219 slaves. The Old South Church, too, published a report last year which detailed that church members enslaved over 100 people.

Reverend John Gibbons from Arlington Street Church attended the press conference. He stated that while many Boston churches have begun researching their history and discussing reparations, “That is not enough.” He explained, “We need to move with some urgency toward action, and so part of what we’re doing is to prod and encourage white churches to go beyond what they have done thus far.”

Other religious leaders echoed his comments, with Baptist leader Archbishop Leo Edward stating that the U.S. had failed to provide the “40 acres and a mule” that had been promised to former slaves – which he argues needs to be addressed.

“You know what is the acres? The prisons! And the mules the prisoners,” he exclaimed.

Reparations Task Force

Reparations have been a topic of much discussion in Boston over the last few years. In 2022, they set up a Task Force on Reparations, which has worked with a team of researchers to study the impact of slavery in Boston and develop a plan on how to pay out reparations to the city’s residents.

The post Boston Church Leaders Demand $15 Billion in Reparations from White Churches first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pormezz.

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