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State Sen. Ronald Rice. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe

Rice praises Princeton Seminary’s reparations committment

Theology school devoting more than $27 million to reparations program

By Nikita Biryukov, October 23 2019 3:58 pm

The chair of New Jersey’s Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday praised the Princeton Theological Seminary for its decision to devote more than $27 million for reparations Wednesday.

“At a time when it often feels like our country is losing its conscience and its heart, I am uplifted and encouraged by Princeton Theological Seminary President M. Craig Barnes’ reparations announcement on Friday,” State Sen. Ronald Rice said. “Although the seminary itself never owned slaves, when it undertook an unflinching examination of its history and came face to face with how it profited from slavery, it committed itself to acknowledging the truth and making a selfless act of reconciliation.”

The Seminary did not own slaves, but many of its founding faculty members, and the school invested in southern banks that helped perpetuate slavery as part of the plantation’s economy.

The $27.6 million the school is placing in an endowment will enable 30 new scholarships and five doctoral fellowships for students who descended from African people who were enslaved.

It will also aid the hiring of a director for the seminary’s Center for Black Church Studies.

“The Princeton Theological Seminary’s reparations scholarships, doctoral fellowships and other initiatives are actions that dwarf the abominable racist language spewed from the White House this same week,” Rice said. “It is a powerful reminder that truth and justice are central to our American ideal and it gives us hope that although laws can’t change hearts, hearts can change laws.”

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump likened the impeachment inquiry against him, a constitutional process, to lynchings, the extrajudicial, racially-motived killings of black people.

“I commend the fearlessness, humility, honesty and compassion of the Princeton Theological Seminary in its quest to right past wrongs and achieve generational change in our society,” Rice said. “As Presidential debates and national discussion increasingly focus on paths to reparation, it is all the more clear that true reconciliation happens when acts replace words.”

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