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Deborah Jenkins appointed to NYC’s Reparations Commission

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In a historic move towards addressing the lingering impacts of slavery, Reverend Dr. Deborah D. Jenkins, the Founding Pastor of Faith at Work Christian Church, has been appointed to New York City’s commission on reparations remedies.

The appointment, made by Speaker Carl E. Heastie, marks a significant step in acknowledging the historical injustices and charting a course towards reconciliation.

Dr. Jenkins expressed her gratitude, stating, “[I am] honored and grateful to Speaker Carl E. Heastie for the appointment! To my NYS Senator Jamaal Bailey and my NYS Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and to Gov. Hochul, thank you all.”

Enacted through legislation in December 2023, the commission aims to delve into the deep-seated legacy of slavery and its repercussions on people of African descent in contemporary society. It is mandated to explore the historical roots of slavery, subsequent discrimination, and their present-day ramifications.

With almost two decades of leadership at Faith at Work Christian Church and over 30 years of youth development experience, Dr. Jenkins brings a wealth of knowledge. Her commitment to community bridging is evident through her role as the NYPD Clergy Liaison in the 45th Precinct, fostering collaboration between law enforcement and the community. She also serves as an adjunct professor at John Jay College in the Public Administration Department.

Legislation S.1163A/A.7691, enacted in 2023, underscores the pivotal role slavery played in shaping New York’s history. The community commission on reparations remedies, comprising nine members with specialized expertise, is mandated to assess the enduring impacts of slavery and present recommendations for rectifying longstanding inequities.

Historical context reveals that before the American Revolution, New York City harbored more enslaved Africans than any city except Charleston, South Carolina. The population of enslaved Africans constituted 20 percent of New York’s population, with 40 percent of colonial New York households owning enslaved Africans. These historical roots continue to influence the socio-economic fabric of the state.

The commission’s responsibility involves conducting a thorough examination of slavery’s legacy and its ongoing consequences on the state’s inhabitants. Public hearings will be held to gather input from stakeholders, culminating in a comprehensive report of findings and recommendations to be submitted to key legislative figures and the Governor within one year of the commission’s inaugural meeting.

Reverend Dr. Deborah D. Jenkins’s appointment signifies a critical chapter in New York City’s commitment to addressing historical injustices, fostering reconciliation, and paving the way for a more equitable future.

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