Divesting from White Supremacy: Reparations as the Next Phase of Benjamin Lay’s Prophetic Vision

Lucy Duncan and Rob Peagler are giving the inaugural Benjamin Lay Lecture on “Divesting from White Supremacy: Reparations as the Next Phase of Benjamin Lay’s Prophetic Vision” on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at 11 a.m., at Abington Friends Meeting at 520 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania 19046. The public is welcome, and there is no charge.

Lucy and Rob will lift up the legacy of Benjamin Lay and explore the power of reparations through an interactive presentation. They will invite attendees to tangibly examine healing and repair from white supremacy and what that means for Quakers and beyond today.

Following the presentation, Abington Friends Meeting is providing a potluck lunch. At 2:00, the activities shift to the Richard Wall House Museum, a five-minutes’ drive at 1 Wall Park Drive, Elkins Park, PA 19027, where Penn State Abington is hosting dessert, followed by a program including an actor’s reenactment of the 1688 reading of the Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery to the session for business of Abington Monthly Meeting—which declined to approve or reject it, but referred it up the hierarchical chain to Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting, then Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and then inaction and possible referral to London Yearly Meeting in Britain. A new sign about the petition to be placed at the site will be revealed.

About Lucy and Rob

Lucy Duncan, a co-founder of the think/do lab of reparationWorks, helped found a reparations committee at Green Street Friends Meeting (of which she is a member), which successfully inspired the community to budget $50,000 per year for ten years toward reparations, the initial project of which was a free legal clinic to secure Black housing wealth in Germantown, Philadelphia. As co-chair of the Mayor’s Commission for Faith-based and Interfaith Affairs, Lucy is co-leading a campaign to invite 100 majority-white congregations in Philadelphia to sincerely engage in reparations accountable to grassroots Black-led organizations and small Black churches. She serves as a Truth and Reparations Fellow for the Truth Telling Project, which is the organizational holder of the Grassroots Reparations Campaign. She has been a professional storyteller for 25 years, co-founded the storytelling troupe The Five Bright Chicks, and has worked with Quaker meeting members & attenders on telling their stories of spiritual experience.

Rob Peagler is a reparationWorks co-founder and co-conspirator. He co-founded the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) at MIT to help social change leaders imagine new ways to dance with their most intractable and vexing challenges. As a partner in design firm/social practice art collective The Action Mill, he and his colleagues drew on the principles of Gandhian nonviolent strategy to facilitate systems-change efforts for state and federal health agencies, national advocacy organizations, and participated as artists in the Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art. More recently he co-designed an experiential learning environment for employers seeking to build their capacity to forge relationships across differences in social identity and social location—the kind of relationships required to create workplaces and cultures that foster the humanity and nurture the development of all people.

About Benjamin Lay

Benjamin Lay, painted likely without his knowledge in 1758 by William Williams, Sr., commissioned by Deborah Franklin as a gift to her husband Benjamin Franklin, who anonymously edited the first edition of Benjamin Lay’s book.

One of the nation’s earliest abolitionists, Benjamin Lay was removed from membership by slaveholding interests of Abington Friends Meeting in 1738. Yet such was his faithfulness that he continued attending its meetings for worship and laboring to convince hearts of the evil of slavery.  In 2017, Abington Meeting recorded “although we may not reinstate membership for someone who is deceased, we recognize Benjamin Lay as a Friend of the Truth.”

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