Date: September 1, 2022
This September marks three years since the Seminary announced the creation of its Reparations Program. The funds within the Program’s now $2.2 million endowment are exclusively designated for payments to our participating shareholders- the direct descendants of African Americans whose labor built and sustained VTS.
Over the course of the last few years, the Program’s shareholder base has more than quadrupled, as our research efforts continue to unearth the names of dozens of Black people (free and enslaved) who labored at the Seminary between 1823 and 1951. To date, nearly 200 descendants have received payments from the fund. These payments, while small, are the first step in our hopes of building a new relationship with a community long ignored and undervalued by VTS.
In addition to serving the descendant community, the Program has awarded three reparations grants to historically Black Episcopal churches and has initiated conversations with Meade Memorial Episcopal Church and Oakland Baptist Church to explore opportunities for their participation in the Program. These efforts fall in line with the Program’s additional priorities to support the work of Black congregations that have historical ties to the Seminary and to elevate the work and voices of Black alumni and clergy within The Episcopal Church.
As we enter our fourth year, I am excited to begin exploring campus memorial options with the descendants and look forward to the continued opportunities for growth and connection that this work has brought to the VTS community.
Associate for Programming & Historical Research for Reparations
Office of Multicultural Ministries