New Book Explores Rutgers University’s Ties to Slavery

rutgersbookA new book Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History has just been released by Rutgers University Press. The book was edited by Marisa J. Fuentes and Deborah Gray White and includes writings from 14 other contributors.

The Scarlet and Black Project is a historical exploration of the experiences of two disenfranchised populations, African Americans and Native Americans, at Rutgers University. The project is undertaken by the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History, which was created in 2015. The Committee was charged with seeking out the untold story of disadvantaged populations in the university’s history and recommending howhite2015resizedw Rutgers can best acknowledge their influence. Dr. Deborah Gray White, the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers. chairs the committee. Dr. White has been on the Rutgers University faculty since 1984. She is a graduate of Binghamton University of the State University of New York System. Dr. White earned a master’s degree at Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Among the essays presented in the new volume are:

  • Old Money, Rutgers University and the Political Economy of Slavery in New Jersey
  • His Name Was Will, Remembering Enslaved Individuals in Rutgers History
  • “And I Poor Slave Yet”, The Precarity of Black Life in New Brunswick, 1766–1835
  • “I Hereby Bequeath…”, Excavating the Enslaved from the Wills of the Early Leaders of Queen’s College

According to the authors, “prominent slaveholding families donated money and land to Queen’s College (Rutgers), which helped the college reopen and remain in operation when it struggled financially.” They also document that families that played key roles in the founding and early operation of the college were from slave-owning families.

The authors conclude that “the practice of slavery was part of the social reality of Queen’s College’s early leaders and the development of Rutgers was intertwined with the history of slavery in America.”


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