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Town creates scholarship in memory of slave family it sold

June 16, 2022 GMT

JAMESTOWN, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island town has created a scholarship fund and will fly the Juneteenth flag to recognize and begin atoning for its role in the slave trade.

The Jamestown Town Council approved a resolution this week in memory of the family of Betty Martin and “all who suffered the brutalities and injustice of slavery in our community.”

The resolution calls for the town to fly the Juneteenth flag from June 19 to July 5. Juneteenth is a federal holiday on June 19 that marks the effective end of slavery in the U.S.

It also creates the town-endowed Betty Martin Family Scholarship, which will be awarded to graduating high school seniors who can show they’ll be “good citizens,” based on their study of civics or history, community service or the “content of their character.”

According to the resolution, members of the Martin family had been the slaves of Jamestown resident Rebecca Carr Martin in the 18th century.

When the widow ran into debt with the town and couldn’t repay, her property, including more than a half dozen slaves, were seized and sold off piecemeal.

Betty Martin was sold for the equivalent of $43 while her 9-year-old son, Newport, was sold for the equivalent of $30 in 1791.