Too often, all oppressed people in America are lumped together under the moniker "people of color," as if each group's experience under the yoke of systemic racism has the same economic and social repercussions. But the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) hold a unique claim to economic and reparative justice: for ADOS, after all, is the only group whose ancestors were forcibly brought to America, enslaved, built much of the wealth of the country, yet continue to be specifically excluded from the same social, political, and economic rights of other Americans. To that end, Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby lays out the first theology of the ADOS movement, turning the traditional lens of Black liberation theology from Moses leading escaped Hebrew slaves in Exodus to another Old Testament leader, Nehemiah. A Jew born in exile, Nehemiah landed a somewhat privileged position in the Persian king's court. After learning about his people's dire situation in Jerusalem, Nehemiah wept and was moved to lead efforts to rebuild the wall around the city with money (reparations) obtained from the imperial government.
In the story of Nehemiah, Cosby finds guidance on how to rebuild Black America, with a specific emphasis on economic justice in the form of reparations to ADOS. Tying Nehemiah's story to the current and historical reality of ADOS in America, Cosby challenges all to move from a place of relative nonengagement and detachment to a place of active support of ADOS's efforts for justice and healing rather than to continue to be victims of America's original sin.