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Episcopal Seminary in Virginia Starts Slavery Reparations Fund

What kind of reparations could begin to make amends for slavery?

In Alexandria, a new $2 million effort is underway.

As the Virginia Theological Seminary reaches its milestone 200th anniversary, Dean Ian Markham says there’s a growing awareness on campus of that the story of the Episcopal seminary is a mix of grace and sin. 

“And part of that sin is the history of racism, which includes the use of enslaved persons on this campus and our participation in segregation and Jim Crow," Markham admits. "The purpose of the reparations fund is literally to repair some of that damage.”

And so the seminary has created a $2 million Reparations Fund that can be used to help descendants of slaves with medical bills or educational scholarships.

Delegate Cia Price of Hampton Roads says lawmakers in Richmond should also be thinking about reparations, even if money isn’t involved.  “Whether it’s in the code, whether it’s in funding models for education, whether it’s obstacles to the ballot box, there are reparations we can do through policy changes that we need to do immediately.”

So far, the seminary hasn’t been in contact with descendants of slaves. But the announcement of the reparations fund is likely to prompt renewed interest in tracking down a lineage that’s been hidden for hundreds of years.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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