Seminary to pay $27M in reparations over ties to slavery

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Seminary to pay $27M in reparations over ties to slavery

A New Jersey seminary pledged to put $27.6 million into scholarship funds and fellowships for descendants of slaves in an effort to repent for its own ties to slavery.

The Princeton Theological Seminary announced the initiative after an audit revealed that the founding members of the faculty used slave labor at some point in their lives and the seminary “benefited from the slave economy, both through investments in Southern banks in the mid-19th century and from donors who profited from slavery,” according to a detailed outline of the plan released on Friday.

John White, dean of students and vice president of student relations, called the audit “an act of confession.”

Princeton Seminary President Craig Barnes said the school’s ties to slavery are “part of our story” and a truth that he did not want to “shy away from.”

Mel Evans/AP, FILE

This June 24, 2013, file photo shows Princeton University’s Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J.

The school’s reparations initiative will include 30 new scholarships and five doctoral fellowships for students who are descendants of slaves or from underrepresented groups.

The scholarships are valued at the cost of tuition, which is $18,000, plus an additional $15,000, according to the seminary.

Other initiatives include hiring faculty members who can adequately teach on the experience of African Americans in the U.S. and hiring a full-time director for the Center of Black Church Studies. The plan goes into effect immediately and will continue through 2024, according to the seminary.

The Association of Black Seminarians did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment. However, the president of the student group, Nicholas Young, told the Daily Princetonian that the school’s plan was a “start” but there was more to be done.

“I cannot say that, as an institution, that the seminary has failed to try to repent,” Young said. “All I can say is that I want it to try harder.”

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