Reparations: Royalties for Black spirituals, historic settlement in Canada, and more [Crosspost]

[Crossposted from the Healing Minnesota Stories blog]


In this post:

  • Boston church to pay royalties for singing black spirituals to support black musicians
  • ELCA ministers establish reparations fund for black leaders, congregations
  • Bush Foundation announces initiative to close the wealth gap in Minnesota, the Dakotas
  • Canada to pay $31.5 billion reparations settlement with First Nations over child welfare abuses

Boston church to pay royalties for singing black spirituals to support black musicians

Members of the United Parish in Brookline were feeling a growing discomfort when they sang Negro spirituals, as they come “from a musical tradition of spirituals originally composed by African people enslaved in America,” WGBH in Boston reported.

Composers, or their estates, typically get royalties when the church buys sheet music, Minister of Music Susan DeSelms said. Not so for enslaved people for their music.

DeSelms had an idea, which she shared during a service.

“Today, we as a church will begin the practice of collecting ‘royalties’ … for the spirituals we sing and worship,” she said. “Whenever we sing Negro spirituals. we will collect an offering that will support the development of Black musicians.”


Full story here.

ELCA ministers establish reparations fund for black leaders and congregations

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has 65 synods. ELCA ministers have created the Sixty-Sixth Synod Reparations Fund, launching It’s website in December.

It’s mission statements is: “To build a fund that allows those from the dominant culture to contribute so that some of the damage done due to inequitable treatment of Black Leaders in society and the ELCA — because of systemic racism, white supremacy, and complacency–may be repaired.” 

Rev. Jehu Jones, a free Black person was the first to be ordained by a Lutheran church body in the United States under the institution of slavery. The 66th Synod Reparations Fund is an endowment established in the spirit of Rev. Jones to repair, redress, and remedy historic inequalities that he experienced. Most Black rostered leaders continue to experience these inequities today—two hundred and thirty-five years later.

66th Synod website

Facebook Page here.

Bush Foundation announces initiative to close the wealth gap in Minnesota, the Dakotas

The Bush Foundation announced it would give $100 million — 10 percent of its total assets and the largest grant it’s ever made — “to help narrow wealth gaps between white Americans and Black and Native Americans,” the Star Tribune reported last December.

The foundation selected Nexus Community Partners in St. Paul and NDN Collective in Rapid City, S.D., “to distribute $50 million each in direct grants to thousands of Native and Black residents in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota over the next several years.”

The fund is unique not just in terms of the amount, but where it will go — to individuals, not the nonprofits or organizations that ordinarily get such funding. And it will be driven by communities of color; [Jackie] Statum Allen, who is Black, and [Eileen] Briggs, a Native American, are leading the initiative at Bush, while NDN Collective is Indigenous-led and Nexus Community Partners is Black-led.

Star Tribune

Star Tribune editorial here.

Canada to pay $31.5 billion in settlement with First Nations over child welfare abuses

In the largest settlement in Canadian history, the Canadian government has agreed to pay $31.5 billion to settle class action lawsuits over the child welfare system’s abuses of Indigenous families, news accounts reported earlier this year.

Under the agreements, half of the money would go to children and families harmed by an underfunded and discriminatory child welfare system on First Nations reserves and in the Yukon, while the rest would be earmarked over five years for long-term reforms, the Indigenous services ministry said in a statement.

Washington Post

Indian Country Today quoted Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller saying “No amount of money can reverse the harms experienced by First Nations children. However, historic injustices require historic reparations,”

This was not a 20th Century problem, but ongoing. Canada failed to implement “Jordan’s Principle,” approved by the House of Commons in 2007, which was “to ensure First Nations children have access to essential health care unhindered by jurisdictional bickering between governments over who should pay.”

A tribunal ruled in 2019 that Canada was “devoid of caution with little to no regard to the consequences of its behavior towards First Nations children and their families.”