Harvard to Give $100 Million for Slavery Reparations

Harvard University is setting aside $100 million for an endowment fund and other measures to close the educational, social and economic gaps that are legacies of slavery and racism, according to an email the university’s president sent to all students, faculty and staff on Tuesday.

The email from Harvard President Lawrence Bacow included a link to a 100-page report by his university’s 14-member Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery. The panel was chaired by Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a legal historian and constitutional law expert who is dean of Harvard’s interdisciplinary Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The email and the report were released to Reuters.

The move by the university in Massachusetts comes amid a wider conversation about the impacts of centuries of slavery, discrimination and racism. Some people have called for financial or other reparations.

The report laid out a history of slaves toiling on the campus and of the university benefiting from the slave trade and industries linked to slavery after it was outlawed in Massachusetts in 1783 – 147 years after Harvard’s founding. The report also documents Harvard excluding Black students and its scholars advocating racism.

While Harvard had notable figures among abolitionists and in the civil rights movement, the report said, “The nation’s oldest institution of higher education … helped to perpetuate the era’s racial oppression and exploitation.”

The report’s authors recommended offering descendants of people enslaved at Harvard educational and other support so they “can recover their histories, tell their stories, and pursue empowering knowledge.”

Other recommendations included that the Ivy League school fund summer programs to bring students and faculty from long-underfunded historically Black colleges and universities to Harvard, and to send Harvard students and faculty to the institutions known as HBCUs, such as Howard University.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Dennis Lloyd, 74, a real estate developer from Roxbury, Massachusetts, who traces his lineage to Cuba Vassall, a woman enslaved by the Royall family. Harvard Law School was established in 1817 with a bequest from Isaac Royall Jr., whose family made much of its fortune in the slave trade and on 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,” added Lloyd, who attended Howard.

In his email, Harvard President Bacow said a committee would explore transforming the recommendations into action and that a university governing board had authorized $100 million for implementation, with some of the funds held in an endowment.

“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.”

Other U.S. institutions of higher learning have created funds in recent years to address legacies of slavery. A law enacted in Virginia last year requires five public state universities to create scholarships for descendants of people enslaved by the institutions.

4 thoughts on “Harvard to Give $100 Million for Slavery Reparations

  1. No one should be donating a penny to Harvard if they have enough money to do this. Another racist move by a public university. No money from the government either.

    1. Civil War was basically Democrats (pro-slavery) against Republicans (anti-slavery). Will the reparations extend to the northerners who fought and either died or were named?
      Harvard has billions in their endowment, what’s a hundred million – hey Harvard put in a meaningful amount – say80% of your endowment!

  2. Slaves have been dead for 100 years and their descendants are in a land where opportunities are 100 times better than where they originated. They should be thankful for the suffering of their ancestors that gave them the great opportunities they have in America, instead of bitching about a deprivation so far removed from their experience. As I understand it, they have at times been offered repatriation money to go back to Africa, but NOT One has ever chosen that route, hence they need no incentive to stay in the land of opportunity. They just need to apply themselves to study & hard work, then there is no difference between them & any other colour.

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