Harvard creates $100M fund after report details its ties to slavery

Nearly 80 Harvard University leaders, donors and employees had owned enslaved folks till slavery remained authorized in Massachusetts in 1783, in accordance to a report the college launched Tuesday. 

Written by members of a committee licensed by college President Lawrence Bacow, the 134-page report consists of seven suggestions “to remedy the persistent educational and social harms that human bondage caused to descendants, to the campus community, and to surrounding cities, the Commonwealth, and the nation,” in accordance to the report. 

The recommendations embody creating academic partnerships with traditionally Black schools and universities, together with honoring enslaved folks by investing in future generations of Black students.

The report is an extension of the Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, which Bacow established in 2019 with a mission of diving deep into the influence of slavery and its relationship to society’s current challenges rooted in racism. The college additionally appointed a committee chaired by Martha Minow, former dean of Harvard Law School, to transfer suggestions into motion and dedicated $100 million to fund its initiative.  

“The legacy of slavery, including the persistence of both overt and subtle discrimination against people of color, continues to influence the world in the form of disparities in education, health, wealth, income, social mobility, and almost any other metric we might use to measure equality,” Bacow stated in a press release. “Consequently, I believe we bear a moral responsibility to do what we can to address the persistent corrosive effects of those historical practices on individuals, on Harvard, and on our society.”

Harvard’s report revealed dozens of people — together with 5 of the college’s earlier presidents — enslaved African and Indigenous folks, in accordance to metropolis important data, wills and different paperwork. 

In latest years, a number of different schools have began reckoning with their ties to slavery and indentured servitude. The University of Mississippi and Georgetown University revealed that they benefited from slave labor, whereas Brown University college students voted in March 2021 for the establishment to provide reparations to descendants of enslaved laborers. Columbia University additionally publicly marked its ties to slavery by including historic markers to 4 of its residence halls, together with Furnald Hall — which was house to Frederick Wells, the first Black pupil to reside on campus and who was harassed by Ku Klux Klan members.

While reviewing Harvard’s historical past of slavery could also be troubling, Bacow stated, he strongly inspired all college students, school and different members of the college group to learn the report.

“Many of you will find it disturbing and even shocking,” Bacow stated. “Many of you may also be disappointed in learning painful truths about the history of an institution that you have come to know, respect, and even love. But the Harvard that I have known, while far from perfect, has always tried to be better—to bring our lived experience ever closer to our high ideals. In releasing this report and committing ourselves to following through on its recommendations, we continue a long tradition of embracing the challenges before us. That, too, is a vital part of our history.”

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