Harvard University aims to rectify the institutions long-withstanding history with slavery during the 17th and 18th centuries.
After a 2019 report written by a committee appointed by Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow revealed that the school had connections to “slavery [that] thrived in New England from its beginnings,” a fund in the amount of $100 million has been launched to make things right.
The money will be used to approach the issues faced by students from marginalized communities and will work to directly improve their educational opportunities, specifically as it pertains to the ivy league.
Per the findings, “Slavery – of Indigenous and of African people – was an integral part of life in Massachusetts and at Harvard during the colonial era.” While most people may not be surprised by the details of reports, Bacow expressed that those who read it might find the news “disturbing and even shocking.”
Harvard, known as the nation’s eldest institution for higher education was founded in 1636 well before slavery was abolished in 1865.
Further research disclosed that at the beginning of the 19th century, a total of five men connected to the institutions managed to build fortunes on the backs of enslaved people. The money also contributed to more than one-third of the funds donated or pledged to Harvard by way of private individuals.
“These donors helped the university build a national reputation, hire faculty, support students, grow its collections, expand its physical footprint and develop its infrastructure,” said the proceedings.
Additionally, museum collections at the school are said to include the remains of thousands of people of Indigenous and African descent. Details suggest that the remains are made up of the aforementioned enslaved people.
“We cannot dismantle what we do not understand, and we cannot understand the contemporary injustice we face unless we reckon honestly with our history,” said Tomiko Brown-Nagin the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard who also serves as the committee chair for the individuals responsible for spearheading the recent study.
The $100 million will also be used to partner with historically Black colleges and universities and for recommendations included in the report. That advice includes memorials, research opportunities as well as curricula that both honors enslaved people and sheds light on Harvard University’s distasteful past.