Harvard pledges $100 million to fix its complicity in slavery

The university’s attempt to consider its past is detailed in a report entitled “Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery”, which documents how the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries “formed a vital part of the New England economy and powerfully shaped Harvard University.”

“It was embedded in the fabric and institutions of the North, and it remained legal in Massachusetts until the Supreme Judicial Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1783.”

Bacow said slavery and racism played a significant role in Harvard’s institutional history, and that slaves worked on campus and supported students, faculty, staff, and university presidents. Their work “enriched many donors and ultimately the institution.”

For nearly 150 years — from the university’s founding in 1636 until the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts — Harvard presidents and others enslaved more than 70 people, according to the report. which lists the names of some in an appendix.

“Enslaved men and women served Harvard presidents and professors and fed and cared for Harvard students,” the report said.

The university and its donors benefited from the slave trade in the 19th century, according to the report.

“These fruitful financial relationships included, among others, the benevolence of donors who accumulated their wealth through the slave trade; from slave labor on the plantations of the Caribbean islands and the southern United States; and from the textile industry of the North, supplied with cotton grown by slaves held in servitude.”

The report says Harvard’s financial investments included “loans to sugar planters, rum distillers and Caribbean plantation suppliers, as well as investments in cotton manufacturing.”

University presidents and professors have also promoted “racial science” and eugenics and conducted abusive “research” on enslaved people, according to the report.

“I believe we have a moral responsibility to do what we can to combat the continuing corrosive effects of these historic practices on individuals, on Harvard, and on our society,” the university president wrote.

Dennis Lloyd, 74, a real estate developer who splits his time between Massachusetts and Georgia, is a descendant of Cuba Vassall, a woman born in Antigua and enslaved by the family of Isaac Royall Sr. A gift from Royall’s son to the late 18th century funded Harvard’s first law professorship. The Royall family owned a sugar cane plantation in Antigua and moved to Medford, Massachusetts, following a planned slave revolt. They brought several slaves with them.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Lloyd told CNN on Tuesday, calling Harvard’s plan an opportunity to promote “a better understanding of the history that has been lost…and stolen from African-Americans.” Americans because of slavery.”

The report includes recommendations to repair this legacy “through teaching, research and service” and the commitment of $100 million for the creation of a fund for the legacy of slavery.

“Some of these funds will be available for current use, while the balance will be held in an endowment to support this work over time,” Bacow said.

The fund is intended to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations, including expanding educational opportunities for descendants of slaves in the southern United States and the Caribbean, establishing partnerships with colleges and Historically Black Universities (HBCUs), and identifying and building relationships. with the direct descendants of slaves who worked at Harvard.

The report says the fund signifies the university’s acknowledgment “of wrongdoing and responsibility to undertake a sustained process of redress: financial expenditure is a necessary predicate and foundation for redress.”

Lloyd, a graduate of Howard University, praised the Ivy League University’s commitment to providing financial and educational support to direct descendants of slaves and its vow to forge ties with HBCUs.

“Harvard’s resources and pockets run very deep,” said Lloyd, a Vietnam War veteran. “Let’s see how everything is implemented.”

Harvard’s announcement comes as other universities across the country try to come to terms with their complicity with slavery.

“While Harvard does not bear sole responsibility for these injustices and many members of our community have worked hard to address them, Harvard has benefited from and in some ways perpetuated deeply immoral practices,” Bacow said.

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