Harvard University’s president Lawrence Bacow has announced the institution is setting aside $100 million to close educational, social and economic gaps linear of slavery and racism.
On Tuesday, Harvard students, faculty and staff received an email news release that included a direct link to a 100-page report titled “Recommendations to the President and Fellows of Harvard College,” created by the university’s 14-member committee on topics of the Ivy League and its connection to slavery.
Today, The Crimson dedicates its front page to the memory of the individuals enslaved by leadership, faculty, staff, and donors at Harvard University. https://t.co/jHHx3ISa8T pic.twitter.com/Z4TJqB3uK7— The Harvard Crimson (@thecrimson) April 27, 2022
The 14-member committee organized by Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of Harvard’s interdisciplinary Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, will work toward transforming Harvard with their recommendations.
Harvard has a long history of enslaved people working on the campus and benefited from the slave trade in the 1700s after the government outlawed slavery in Massachusetts. The report also noted how Black students were excluded from classes, and professors often advocated racism.
“The nation’s oldest institution of higher education… contributed to prolong the era’s racial tyranny and exploitation,” the report acknowledges, despite the fact that Harvard had important individuals among abolitionists and in the US civil rights movement.
The study also provided educational and other support to descendants of enslaved individuals at Harvard in order for them to “recover their past, communicate their tales and pursue powerful knowledge.”
Another suggestion mentioned in the report is that the Massachusetts institution will sponsor summer programs to bring students and staff from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to Harvard and send Harvard students to HBCUs.
Dennis Lloyd, 74, a real estate developer from Roxbury, Massachusetts, whose lineage goes back to an enslaved woman, Cuba Vassall, feels Harvard is doing the right thing with this endowment fund. When Vassall was enslaved, she was under the Royall family.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Lloyd said.
The people recognized on the cover are only those whom Harvard was able to identify in a landmark report published Tuesday about the legacy of slavery. As the report says, it’s “almost certainly an undercount.” pic.twitter.com/wX1plACIS3
— Raquel Coronell Uribe (@raquelco15) April 27, 2022
Harvard Law School was established in 1817 with a bequest from Isaac Royall Jr.; Royall Jr. and his family became wealthy during the slave trade and owned a sugar plantation in Antigua.
“I’m happy to see that Harvard has acknowledged their connection to slavery, happy to see they’re expanding the financial and educational resources to students who would normally not have access to Ivy League schools, and certainly the HBCU connection,” Lloyds said.
In the email, President Bacow also said that the committee would look into bringing the suggestions to reality, adding that the university’s governing board has approved a budget of $100 million for implementation.
“Slavery and its legacy have been a part of American life for more than 400 years,” Bacow wrote. “The work of further redressing its persistent effects will require our sustained and ambitious efforts for years to come.”
Institutions across the U.S. have created funds to address the legacies of slavery.