Churches Pushed to Contribute Millions to City’s Black Reparations

In Boston, religious leaders, primarily African American clergy with some white members, are starting discussions on racial reconciliation and reparations within the city’s churches. The grassroots Boston People’s Reparations Commission is urging historically white congregations to recognize their ties to slavery and offer financial assistance to address the lasting effects on the African American community.

The call to action, made public at Resurrection Lutheran Church, focuses on a $15 billion reparations demand from the City of Boston for its involvement in the slave trade. Notably, this initiative was directed towards religious organizations. Reverend Kevin Peterson, a leading figure in the campaign, urged white churches to acknowledge their historical involvement in slavery and allocate their resources to support the black community.

Peterson suggested that this act of atonement could manifest in different ways. Cash reparations, funding for affordable housing projects, and the establishment of financial institutions catering to black residents were among the options discussed. A letter, signed by 16 clergy members, delineated these potential avenues and was dispatched to specific churches, including renowned landmarks such as King’s Chapel and Old South Church.

These centuries-old churches grapple with a legacy wherein both clergy and congregants were slave owners. Certain establishments, such as King’s Chapel, have openly recognized this aspect of their past and conducted studies on the matter. Reverend John Gibbons of Arlington Street Church, another focal point of the initiative, stressed the importance of progressing beyond mere research and actively undertaking measures for restitution.

While certain churches have initiated this journey, others, such as the Catholic Church, have yet to do so. Despite not being initially involved in colonization efforts, the Catholic Church is now part of the conversation surrounding reparations, attributed to its perceived contribution to the perpetuation of racial disparities. The Archdiocese of Boston recognized the plight of the black community and expressed intentions to assess the proposed measures.

The call for reparations reaches far beyond the confines of religious institutions. Reverend Leo Edward, a prominent figure in the Baptist community, condemned the failure to deliver on the pledge of “40 acres and a mule” to emancipated slaves. He argued that contemporary prisons and their incarcerated individuals symbolize the contemporary iteration of that unresolved commitment.

Mayor Wu’s administration is actively progressing towards reparations. An established Task Force, initiated in 2022, is thoroughly exploring avenues to provide compensation to black residents of Boston for past injustices.




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