Black Kentucky nonprofit received 6-figure reparations payment from white heir: NPR
Change today, change tomorrow
A nonprofit group that helps black and marginalized communities in Kentucky received a six-figure donation from a white donor who says he recently inherited family wealth – then learned their great-grandfather owned slaves .
The money is a payment for repairs, said the donor, who has chosen to remain anonymous.
“The donor had become very rich on his 25th birthday”, says Nannie Grace Croney, Deputy Director of Change Today, Change Tomorrow, the Louisville nonprofit that received the donation.
When they received their windfall, the heir became curious about where their family’s money came from.
“They investigated their family history to find that their great-grandfather had enslaved six people in Bourbon [County], Kentucky, “Croney said as the nonprofit announced the donation earlier this week.
Because the great-grandfather did not record the names of the enslaved people, the donor was unable to trace the descendants of the people their ancestor possessed. Croney said that because the donor was “aware of how the hoarding of wealth is a huge factor in inequity in this country, they decided they should give most of it.”
The heir chooses to remain anonymous, like the enslaved people of their great-grandfather
Courtesy of Change Today, Change Tomorrow
The identity of the donor has not been revealed, but the association claims the person lives in the South. The group also released a statement from the donor, in which they discuss the actions of their ancestors:
“He inflicted the trauma and violence of slavery on six people for his own monetary gain and did not even bother to register their names. Although no amount of money can ever undo this wrong , their descendants deserve repayment for what was taken. “
“It’s a blessing to us, but it’s also definitely due,” said Taylor Ryan, Founder and Executive Director of Change Today, Change Tomorrow. She called on local foundations to do more to help.
The money provides a significant boost to Change Today, Change Tomorrow, which has seen remarkable growth since Ryan first launched the organization with the goal of securing school supplies for teachers. Its programs now range from providing hot meals and snacks to students, to raising public health awareness to women and new mothers, as well as delivering food, including fresh produce from a farm owned by blacks.
“We primarily serve the west end of Louisville, which is a predominantly black, low-income area,” Andreana Bridges, an administrative partner for the nonprofit, told NPR.
The donation is the latest in a series of high value repair payments white people who discovered links to racism and slavery in their family history – finding details such as the value placed on enslaved people in a ledger and notes identifying a grandmother as a member of the Ku Klux Klan .
Among those receiving reparations is Soul2Soul Sisters, a Colorado group co-founded by Reverend Riley Duval. The money helped his organization grow – and like Ryan, Duval says reparations are badly needed, given the long-standing ties between racism and economic inequality in the United States.
“There has to be compensation”, Duval told Colorado Public Radio in 2019. “We understand that economic justice and healing justice are an integral part of racial justice … So there has to be compensation for conciliation.”
Repairs were given “without expectation of praise”
The donor who wired money to Change Today, Change Tomorrow is calling on other white people to pay reparations, even if their ancestors did not own slaves.
“As whites, we all benefit unfairly from racism,” the donor said, according to the association.
“We must be prepared to part with what has been stolen, and do so without expecting praise or control over how the money is spent,” they added.
The leaders of Change Today, Change Tomorrow echoed this sentiment. And they recognized that, given how much money was going to them, it wasn’t until after a wire transfer that it felt real. Now, they added, they have more work to do.
“We are very grateful on the one hand,” said Bridges. “But on the other hand, we understand that the work we do requires this type of investment to be sustainable.”
Referring to paying for repairs, she added, “We don’t have the luxury of sitting on it, so it’s literally money that is going to go straight back to the community.”