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Belinda Sutton of Massachusetts and Her 1713 Fight for Reparations.

Belinda Sutton may be the first formerly enslaved person to demand and receive reparations. Born in Ghana in 1713, Belinda Sutton was enslaved by the Royal family in Medford, Massachusetts. At 70 years old after she was emancipated, Sutton petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for a pension from the proceeds of the Royall family’s estate. Sutton described her kidnapping in Africa and life in forced labor. Sutton was awarded an annual pension of fifteen pounds and twelve shillings, approved by John Hancock (yes, the famous signatory to the Constitution of the U.S.) But after two years, the payments stopped. Sutton continued to petition for her pension until 1793. Sutton’s effort set the stage for the ongoing reparations movement.


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