Harvard University President Commits to Studying the University’s Ties to Slavery

harvard_logoDrew G. Faust, president of Harvard University, recently penned an article in The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, that said she was committed to studying and recognizing the university’s role in slavery and the slave trade. Dr. Faust wrote, “although we embrace and regularly celebrate the storied traditions of our nearly 400 year history, slavery is an aspect of Harvard’s past that has rarely been acknowledged or invoked.”

President Faust went on to write that “Harvard was directly complicit in America’s system of racial bondage from the College’s earliest days in the 17th century until slavery in Massachusetts ended in 1783, and Harvard continued to be indirectly involved through extensive financial and other ties to the slave South up to the time of emancipation. This is our history and our legacy, one we must fully acknowledge and understand in order to truly move beyond the painful injustices at its core.”

As a first step, President Faust said that the university is installing a plaque on Wadsworth House on the Harvard campus. The plaque recognizes four enslaved persons who lived and worked in the building for two Harvard presidents during the eighteenth century. Dr. Faust is also creating a panel of historians to identify other sites on the Harvard campus that should be recognized.

“In more fully acknowledging our history,” Dr. Faust concluded, “Harvard must do its part to undermine the legacies of race and slavery that continue to divide our nation.”

The full article, “Recognizing Slavery at Harvard,” may be viewed here.


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