Saturday: Perth Amboy Rally Will Urge Us to Say The Word—Reparations

This Saturday, join Bishop Stokes and a coalition of religious and civic leaders at St. Peter’s, Perth Amboy, as they call on the New Jersey Legislature to take action on S322/A711 bills, to  confront disparities resulting from the legacy of slavery.

Elected state and local officials, along with civic and religious leaders will highlight the Saturday, October 30 Say The Word: Reparations Rally beginning at 10 am at St. Peter’s, 188 Rector St., Perth Amboy.

“As we’ve seen the deeply embedded cracks of structural racism exposed under the stress of this last year and a half, it is clearer than ever that it’s time to say the word: reparations,” said Ryan Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “It is powerful and moving to see New Jerseyans of all races and faiths gather, make calls, email and Tweet to call for passage of legislation to establish a Reparations Task Force. Now it’s time for legislators to listen to them and finally pass A711/S322. The time is now.”

According to the state website: S322/A711 is an Act establishing the “New Jersey Reparations Task Force” to conduct research and develop reparatory proposals and recommendations to address the generational harms caused by New Jersey’s role in America’s institution of slavery and its legacy of systemic racial discrimination.

Among the rally supporters are New Jersey ecumenical and social justice leaders for concerned citizens, supporters, and members of sponsors: Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey; Unitarian Universalist Faith Action NJ; New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; Lutherans Engaging in Advocacy Ministry NJ; NAACP-NJ; New Brunswick Theological Seminary; Peoples Organization for Progress; Anti-Racist Alliance – NJ; Social Justice Matters, Inc.; The New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders; Salvation and Social Justice; Shiloh Baptist Church & Community Development Corporation; F-A-A-I-T-H (Faith-leaders Against Abuse in the Home); Faith in New Jersey.

St. Peter’s is a significant location as it was established in colonial times when slavery was introduced on this continent. Buried is the churchyard is Thomas Mundy Peterson, the first African American to vote in an election after the 15th Amendment was enacted, March 31, 1870. The location of the rally in Perth Amboy is also significant as Perth Amboy was a major port for the slave trade as well as a stop on the Underground Railroad for enslaved people seeking freedom.

The October 30 rally will be held rain or shine; in the event of rain, the rally will move to inside the church facility. Masks are required and social distancing will be in effect. Parking is available on church property, on the street, and in nearby lots.

A virtual rally on October 11 drew more than 100 from all areas of New Jersey, featuring testimonials and pertinent information about the need for a statewide Reparations Task Force.

Say the Word: Reparations! rally event on October 30 is the fourth in a series of Say the Word: Reparations! rallies organized by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Peoples Organization for Progress, and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey.

What is Reparations?

According to the prestigious Brookings Institute, “Reparations—a system of redress for egregious injustices—are not foreign to the United States. Native Americans have received land and billions of dollars for various benefits and programs for being forcibly exiled from their native lands. For Japanese Americans, $1.5 billion was paid to those who were interned during World War II. Additionally, the United States, via the Marshall Plan, helped to ensure that Jews received reparations for the Holocaust, including making various investments over time. In 1952, West Germany agreed to pay 3.45 billion Deutsche Marks to Holocaust survivors. Black Americans are the only group that has not received reparations for state-sanctioned racial discrimination, while slavery afforded some white families the ability to accrue tremendous wealth.”

In a March 16 opinion column for The Star Ledger, “New Jersey, it’s time to tell the truth,”, Bishop William “Chip” Stokes of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and Haygood wrote: “Too often, our state has been on the wrong side of history. In 1704, the Colonial Province of New Jersey introduced the ‘Slave Code,’ which prohibited enslaved Africans and free Africans from owning property. New Jersey opposed the Emancipation Proclamation and was the last Northern state to abolish slavery. Following the Civil War, New Jersey refused to ratify the Reconstruction Amendments.”

Stokes recently commented, “As my article and Ryan Haygood’s make clear, the effects of slavery continue to impact Black Americans in very real ways today. The legislation is necessary as a means of redressing this wrong and level a playing field which is still dramatically tilted against Black Americans and other persons of color.”


Bill S322/A711, establishing the New Jersey Reparations Task Force, requires the Task Force to:

(1) examine the institution of slavery within the State of New Jersey;

(2) examine the extent to which the State of New Jersey and the federal government prevented, opposed, or restricted efforts of former enslaved persons and their descendants who are considered United States’ citizens to economically thrive upon the ending of slavery;

(3) examine the lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and on society in New Jersey and the United States;

(4) research methods and materials for facilitating education, community dialogue, symbolic acknowledgement, and other formal actions leading toward transformation, reparations remedies, a sense of justice, and economic justice among the descendants of enslaved African people in this State;

(5) make recommendations for what remedies should be awarded, through what instrumentalities, and to whom those remedies should be awarded; and

Learn more/resources

Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

Unitarian Universalist Faith Action NJ

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Lutherans Engaging in Advocacy Ministry NJ

State of NJ NAACP

New Brunswick Theological Seminary

Peoples Organization for Progress

Anti-Racist Alliance – NJ

Social Justice Matters, Inc.

Salvation and Social Justice

NJ Legislation

St Peter’s Perth Amboy history

Faith in New Jersey

Faith in Action

Faith in New Jersey

For more information: