Episcopal Seminary That Relied On Slave Labor Starts A $1.7M Reparations Fund To Support Black Clergy

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Written by Ann Brown
episcopal
By Autumn Keiko

An Episcopal seminary in northern Virginia named Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria not only has acknowledged that it relied on slave labor in the 19th century, but it is also now starting a $1.7 million reparations fund.

The fund will be used for various purposes, including assistance to any descendants of slaves who worked there. The endowment will also be used to “support Black clergy in The Episcopal Church, promote justice and inclusion, and support the needs of local African-American congregations connected to the seminary,” The Associated Press reported.

The Seminary announced it will form a task force to determine descendants and how funds should be allocated.

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The nearly 200-year-old Virginia Theological Seminary was founded in 1823 by a group that included the author of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key. Slaves helped build the campus and continued to use enslaved labor after its creation. The school also admits to participating in segregation even after the emancipation of slaves.

With the establishment of the fund, the Virginia Theological Seminary could “become the first institution in the country to offer reparations to descendants of enslaved persons,” Fox 5 DC reported.

According to the seminary’s leader, The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., Dean and President, Professor of Theology and Ethics, Virginia Theological Seminary, the church’s history with slaves was “sin, unjust and racist.”