Harvard’s sorry for slavery, and it’s ready to prove it by paying prodigiously.
The school recently released a report illustrating ways it benefited from the reprobate practice.
From ABC News:
[Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery], commissioned by [President Lawrence Bacow], found that Harvard’s faculty, staff and leaders enslaved more than 70 Black and Native American people from the school’s founding in 1636 to 1783. It cautions that the figure is “almost certainly an undercount.”
Harvard’s kicking collegiate Caucasians and taking names:
Using historical records, researchers were able to identify dozens of enslaved people by name, along with their connection to the university.
Most were identified only by a single name, such as Cesar, Dinah and Venus.
From the report:
Enslaved men and women served Harvard presidents and professors and fed and cared for Harvard students. Moreover, throughout this period and well into the 19th century, the University and its donors benefited from extensive financial ties to slavery.
Therefore, Harvard “should make a significant monetary commitment, and it should invest in remedies of equal or greater breadth than other universities.”
ABC notes the college’s “growth is credited to support from wealthy donors who accumulated their fortunes through the slave trade and industries (such as that of cotton and railroad) that relied on it.”
So what’s a sorry, historically sinister school to do? In Harvard’s case, the answer involves a colossal amount of cash. Select relatives may benefit bigly:
[The school] is vowing to spend $100 million to study and atone for its extensive ties with slavery…with plans to identify and support the descendants of enslaved people who labored at the Ivy League campus.
Per President Lawrence:
“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.”
The aftermath of slavery isn’t Harvard’s only cultural concern. In a number of ways, the school’s leading a transformative charge:
Not everyone’s impressed by the $100 million mea culpa.
The college could certainly go higher — it boasts an endowment of more than $50 billion.
Aside from throwing cash to descendants, how will it make amends for slavery?
According to ABC, there’s a menagerie of ideas:
The report says Harvard should identify the descendants of enslaved people and engage with them “through dialogue, programming, information sharing, relationship building and educational support.” …
“Through such efforts, these descendants can recover their histories, tell their stories and pursue empowering knowledge,” the report said.
More broadly, it urges Harvard to fight racial inequality by expanding education options for descendants of enslaved people, especially in the South and the Caribbean. It calls on the university to work closely with historically Black colleges across the country, with new funding to bring students and scholars to Harvard for up to a year at a time.
Can the 250-year-old sins of dead people be absolved by monetary means? It would seem no, but Harvard’s clearly committed to letting everyone know they’re trying.
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