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Princeton Theological Commits $27.6 Million for Reparations

October 23, 2019
 
 

Princeton Theological Seminary is committing $27.6 million to an endowment for slavery reparations, the Presbyterian seminary announced

Funds will be used to support more than 20 new initiatives. These include establishing 30 new scholarships, valued at the cost of tuition plus $15,000, for students who are descendants of slaves or who are from underrepresented groups; hiring a full-time director for the Center for Black Church Studies; and hiring a new faculty member focused on African American experience and ecclesiastical life. The institution will also make changes to the seminary curriculum and will name the library after Theodore Sedgwick Wright, the first African American to graduate from the seminary.

A historical audit by Princeton Theological Seminary found that while the institution did not own slaves and its buildings were not built with slave labor, it did benefit from the slave economy through investments in Southern banks in the mid-19th century and through donors who themselves profited from slavery. Founding leaders and faculty of the seminary used slave labor, and several of the first professors and board members were involved in the American Colonization Society, which advocated sending free black people to Liberia.

"Our response to the historical audit is the beginning of our community’s journey of repair as we seek to redress historic wrongs and to help the seminary be more faithful to our mission as a school of the church, both now and in the years to come,” President M. Craig Barnes said in a news release.

Nicholas Young, the leader of a black student group at Princeton Theological Seminary, told The New York Times that the changes were “a good start,” but that they fell short of what the group had asked for.

The announcement from Princeton Theological follows on an announcement last month from Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopal institution, that it had established a $1.7 million endowment to be used toward slavery reparations. 

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