PRINCETON: A powerful example of truth and reconciliation

Linda Oppenheim and Larry Spruill, Princeton
This week, Princeton witnessed a powerful example of truth and reconciliation.
In connection with the 175th Anniversary of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast announced that it is retiring the mortgage of $175,000 on the Paul Robeson house, righting a wrong committed over 100 years ago.
In 1900, after serving for 21 years, the Rev. William Robeson, father of famous Princetonian Paul Robeson, was forced out of his pastorship at the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church by white members of the presbytery, causing him and his family a financial and emotional hardship. Just as his son suffered for his leadership in the civil rights movement of the 20th century, the Rev. Robeson endured harsh consequences for speaking out against the discrimination experienced by Princeton’s African American community, many of whom were members of his congregation. His ouster also resulted in a significant loss in funding for Witherspoon Street Church.
The members of Not in Our Town, Princeton’s racial justice organization, whose mission is to speak truth about “everyday racism“ and other forms of prejudice and discrimination and promote reconciliation with open, honest engagement and mutual respect, applaud the Synod, the Presbytery of New Brunswick, and Nassau Presbyterian Church for this bold move.
We implore other institutions in Princeton to follow this example, face their histories relating to African Americans, publicly admit and apologize for wrongdoings, and take whatever steps necessary to rectify past mistakes and reach racial reconciliation.
Not in Our Town Princeton ( is a 501(c)(3) interracial, interfaith social action group committed to speaking truth about racism, prejudice, discrimination, to raising awareness of white privilege, and to seeking reconciliation, mutual respect, and open communication among diverse groups in the greater Princeton area. 
Linda Oppenheim 
Larry Spruill 
Co-chairs, Not in Our Town 
Princeton 