Slave-owner descendants’ website to make amends

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A new Phoenix-based website launched recently to allow the descendants of slave owners to examine their relatives’ beliefs, evaluate those actions and offer a concrete plan to make amends. We talked with Rea Bennett–a descendant of a slave owner–and Michael Zirulnik about the new website and how it hopes to bring healing to the issue of slavery.

Speaking Truth is a platform created over the past 2 years for individuals who are descendants from slave owners in America, with the goal of facilitating the process of acknowledging, understanding, accepting, and amending the crimes of one’s ancestors.

Rea Bennett is a descendant of slave owners and has been looking for ways to make amends for it for a number of years. She said “there’s nothing else to do but stay the truth… and make plans for amends.”

“I’m not free yet,” Rea said, but “I’m working up to it.”

She said “different people have different emotions… My first emotion was anger, that quickly morphed into sadness.” But from sadness came acceptance, and from acceptance came determination. Determination to help repair the damage her ancestors did. She said she felt like she’s going to be a part of “the healing effort” in the United States.

“We’ve never had an organized or grand effort to reconcile,” Rea said, “The important part really is to make amends.”

Co-founder Michael Zirulnik said the new website is unique, taking place in a format that they have not seen anywhere else. A format where one can voluntarily submit information about their ancestors, process the events that took place, and make a plan to repair the damage.

“We’re in a space, a place in time, where these conversations haven’t happened on a national level,” Zirulnik said. Speaking Truth is intended to facilitate these conversations.

For more info go to speakingtruth.org.

Michael Zirulnik, Co-founder Speaking Truth Website; Rea Bennett, Co-founder Speaking Truth Website

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