Scholars program launched for descendants of African slaves in Long Island

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The Reparations Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island launched a scholarship program for Black, African American, or Caribbean American Descendants of enslaved people seeking to pursue higher education or vocational training.

The committee formed the scholars program at the request of Bishop Provenzano to foster equity in education.

Applicants must be high-school seniors or be currently enrolled in an accredited university or vocational school and reside within the Diocese of Long Island (which encompasses Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York). Applicants may apply for up to $5,000 per semester for their studies. Successful applicants will demonstrate scholarly achievement, possess leadership skills, be involved in their communities, and have an expressed commitment to continuing education.

Scholarships will be presented by the Right Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, Bishop of Long Island, on Juneteenth, June 19, 2022, at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, NY.

Bishop Provenzano said, “The scholarships are offered to support children from families who were disenfranchised by the racist policies of real estate red-lining and discriminatory hiring practices within the area of our diocese. This is an essential step as we seek to address the long-practiced sin of racism that has existed in our midst.”

This new program is named the “Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program” in honor of the Right Rev. Barbara C. Harris (1930-2020), a descendant of enslaved people and the first female bishop in the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion. Bishop Harris was a civil rights activist, teacher, leader, and visionary, known especially for her advocacy for women, Black people, and LGBTQ+ individuals, which helped bring about historic change in the Episcopal Church.

Chair of the Reparations Committee Penny Allen Grinage said, “We know that reparations must include more than scholarships. Reparations can take numerous forms such as settlements, land-based compensations, apologies, and truth telling. However, this scholarship is a great start in helping to level the playing field for those who have been disadvantaged due to the color of their skin.”

The Reparations Committee is a recently formed subcommittee of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Long Island. Its mission is to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” The committee was formed in response to Bishop Provenzano’s request and the Episcopal Church’s declared commitment “to become a transformed, anti-racist church and to work toward healing, reconciliation, and a restoration of wholeness to the family of God.”