Grassroots Reparations Campaign
We envision a world that is accountable for past harms, including slavery, colonialism, genocide, and other material and moral abuses. These past harms create the current conditions in which we live and impact our future. We seek to create a world where reconciliation is possible because racism is no more.
We uplift faith-based and ethically-centered frameworks that demand accountability for the history and current world conditions that slavery, colonialism, genocide, and other material and moral abuses created. We have set out to create a culture of reparations that emerges from spiritual practice, transformative education, and action.
Pan Africanism | Political Autonomy| Collective Struggle and Accountability | Indigeneity | Intersectionality | Black Feminism Feminism | Decoloniality | Human Dignity | Peace | Internationalism
“Reparations is a spiritual practice. Reparations is the midpoint between truth and reconciliation.” –Dr. David Ragland and Dr. Melinda Salazar, Co-Founders of The Truth Telling Project
The Grassroots Reparations Campaign is a program of The Truth Telling Project that launched in 2019. Working from the outset with those who have been doing reparations work for decades before us, we are partnered with the following faith-based and ethically-oriented social justice organizations: the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), Fellowship of Reconciliation Atlanta, Community of Living Traditions, Psychoanalysis for Social Responsibility, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Center for Jubilee, Reconciliation and Healing, Racial Justice Rising , Coming to the Table, and Coming to the Table Virginia. We are committed to inviting a broad coalition of faith-based institutions, faith communities, and ethically-centered organizations to be part of an awakening to direct or indirect complicity in upholding systems of white supremacy. With other Black-led organizations, we invite ethically-centered organizations and congregations from various religious traditions to atone for and/or heal from participation in white supremacist culture, practices, and policies. (E.g. Click here for a Statement of Apology from Racial Justice Rising).
“Reparationists are the abolitionists of our time.” –Woullard Lett, Grassroots Reparations Campaign Partner and Male Co-Chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA)
In 2017, The Truth Telling Project, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth and Fellowship of Reconciliation began thinking about reparations as a way to accomplish racial healing and justice. This effort was led by Senior Bayard Rustin Fellow, Dr. David Ragland, International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) International Coordinator Reverend Lucas Johnson, and Chrissi Jackson, Co-founder and former Co-Director of the Truth Telling Project. Together they created the “FOR National Grassroots Truth and Reparations Campaign,” a program that, with the Truth Telling Project, emphasized the need to speak and hear the truth about the original sins of genocide, slavery, and post-slavery forms of systemic racism. The Grassroots Reparations Campaign, which is who we are today, incepted in 2019. Arguing that reparations is the midpoint between truth and reconciliation, we engage in interfaith consciousness raising about the need for reparations and have built a coalition of leaders from congregations, faith-based organizations, and ethically centered organizations. Our ultimate goal, in addition to encouraging critical reflection, is for white-dominated organizations to form reparative relationships with Black-led grassroots organizations that will define what reparations looks like for them.
Success looks like the creation of a culture of accountability and repair. In this culture, faith-based and ethically centered communities have committed, en masse, to holding themselves accountable for participation and/or complicity in sustaining systems of white supremacy. One demonstration of this commitment is the adoption of Reparations Sabbath or Reparations Sunday into their spiritual practice. The Grassroots Reparations Campaign has set out to mobilize America’s faith and social justice-driven movements to acknowledge our history, demand reparations for Black people in America, and build a new reality for current and future generations.
Reparationists engage in a spiritual journey to heal from white supremacy in all of its external and internal manifestations while working toward full reparations and abolition-democracy. The term Reparationist merges a holistic, spiritual conception of reparations for Black people with the abolitionist practice of dismantling contemporary systems that maintain, reinforce, and profit from racial oppression that, in the U.S., originated with Indigenous genocide and chattel slavery.
The Sacred Reparative Season begins on Juneteenth and ends with Reparations Sabbath (or Saturday) and Sunday events held throughout Black August and the first through the third of December.
Juneteenth (June 19th) is a sacred day within the living theology of Black liberation. On and well beyond this day, we encourage our communities to seek education and learn more about the history of this nation.
July 3rd is the day Abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave his most famous speech, “What to the Slaves is the Fourth of July?” July 4th is a day for reconsidering history that remains largely unquestioned. The 1619 Project and decoloniality literature interrogate the presumptive, untroubled waters that leave out the brutal violence of enslavement and colonization against African and Indigenous peoples and their homelands and neglect to consider the heavy impact of this history on us today.
Black August originated following the murder of George Jackson in honor of political prisoners and Black freedom fighters. Throughout this month, with which we close out the Sacred Reparative Season, we encourage religious, faith-based, spiritual, healing, and ethically-centered communities to choose a date for #ReparationSabbath, #ReparationSaturday, and/or #ReparationSunday and adapt either their usual service to include the theme of reparations, hold an event outside of their usual service, or host a special event on a designated day.
We invite communities to hold Reparations Sabbath (or Saturday) and Sunday events on December 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, as well. The 2nd marks the UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the start of a Jubilee Season commemorating General William Tecumseh Sherman’s 1865 issuance of Field Order 15 to grant 40 acres and a mule to newly freed Africans and African Americans in the U.S.
Reparations Sabbath, Saturday, and Sunday entail more than a service for a congregation or a special event for an organization. With these and other commemorative days, our Sacred Reparative Season encourages reflection, reconsideration, and movement toward reparative action. We invite you and your community to use this season as a time to reflect on our freedom dreams, heal from our collective trauma, and engage in education about our shared history with spiritual writings and teachings that prepare us for reparations in our personal, spiritual, and political lives.
Reparations are a spiritual practice, not just a transaction. They are a relational practice of healing from spiritual, moral, and material harm. Inspired by our partner organizations, Reparations Sabbath (or Saturday) and Reparations Sunday were born from this foundation of our work. These commemorative days very intentionally open a way for deep reflection on the inner and interpersonal, spiritual-level work of reparations. For this reason, we call upon healing, religious, spiritual, and faith communities to help lead and support the work of building a culture of reparations. To assist them, the holding of Reparation Sabbath/Saturday and Reparations Sunday celebrations serves as a path forward.
Resources for prayers and spiritual texts for applying spiritual principles that support reparations in various faith traditions can be found here. Click here for a Litany of Confession, Repentance, and Repair written by Reverend Kevin Kitrell Ross, a prior Harvard Divinity School student of TTP Co-founder Dr. Ragland.
As together we use the Reparations Sabbath/Sunday program to foster reparations as a spiritual practice, we are collecting your stories and would love to hear about your events. We also look forward to amplifying your #ReparationSabbath, #ReparationSaturday, and #ReparationSunday posts over social media; sharing videos of your sermons; and listing you on our websites. Be sure to submit this form to let us know your plans!
Reparations requires a culture in which accountability for past harm is a prominent feature in the society. Our approach draws on the ten injury areas described by the National Association of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) and the framing by the United Nations Development Program where reparations comes in the form of compensation, healing, education, restitution, and guarantees of non-repeat. We support the passing of H.R. 40 yet also understand that reparations must be championed from the grassroots if we are to go beyond commissions studying reparations. We believe that congregations and ethically centered organizations are well situated to participate in fostering reparations as a spiritual/ethical/civic practice. Our campaign utilizes a Reparations Sabbath/Saturday and Sunday program as a pathway for communities to cultivate such a practice.
Click here for a Toolkit containing our history, our principles, and strategies for hosting a Reparations Sabbath, Saturday, or Sunday event. Click here for a secondary Toolkit + a Teach-in Facilitator’s Guide for holding your own teach-in about full reparations, commemorating the Sacred Reparative Season, and hosting a Reparations Sabbath, Saturday, or Sunday event.
Click here for a recorded teach-in that will help prepare you to commemorate the Sacred Reparative Season and hold a Reparations Sabbath, Saturday, or Sunday event with your religious, faith-based, spiritual, healing, or ethically centered organization.
Learn how to be part of the season and the change. Join thousands of others who are transforming spiritual practice by looking at what our core beliefs say about our past and how we may progress beyond current social norms toward a level of accountability that makes reparations possible.
The Reparationist Pledge of Accountability is one way to commit and remain faithful to the work of reparations. It is a personal and communal tool of accountability and steadfast solidarity.
Recite the pledge out loud in your community or to another person, saying:
Together, we recite this REPARATIONIST PLEDGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY in acknowledgment of the ways we continue to profit and privilege, whether directly or indirectly, from systems of harm that impact Black people as a result of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and its ongoing systems of oppression. We recite the reparationist pledge because we want to help build a reparationist culture.
When you take the pledge, use your name/and or the name of your community group in the recitation.