Harvard University has created a $100 million endowment fund for slavery reparations 2022-04-26 12:33:00


Students and pedestrians walk in a plaza at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

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April 26 (Reuters) – Harvard University has committed $100 million to an endowment fund and other actions to bridge educational, social and economic gaps that represent the legacies of slavery and racism, according to an email the president sent to all students and faculty. and staff on Tuesday.

The email from Harvard President Lawrence Bako included a link to a 100-page report by the 14-member Harvard University Commission on the Legacy of Slavery. The commission was chaired by Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a legal historian, expert in constitutional law, and dean of the Radcliffe Interdisciplinary Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The email and the report were released to Reuters.

The move by the University of Massachusetts comes amid a broader debate about the effects of centuries of slavery, discrimination and racism. Some people demanded monetary or other compensation.

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The report laid out a history of slaves toiling on campus and the university profiting from the slave trade and industries associated with slavery after it was outlawed in Massachusetts in 1783—147 years after Harvard was founded. The report also documents Harvard University’s exclusion of black students and scholars who advocate for racism.

While Harvard University had prominent figures among the abolitionists and the civil rights movement, the report said, “the oldest institution of higher education in the country … helped perpetuate the racial oppression and exploitation of that era.”

The report’s authors recommended providing educational and other support to the descendants of enslaved people at Harvard so that they could “reclaim their history, tell their stories, and seek to advance knowledge.”

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

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Dennis Lloyd, 74, a property developer from Roxbury, Massachusetts, who traces his lineage back to Cuba Vasal, a woman enslaved by the Royal family. Harvard Law School was founded in 1817 by a bequest from Isaac Royal Jr., whose family made much of their fortune in the slave trade and on a sugar cane plantation in Antigua.

Lloyd added, “I am pleased to see that Harvard has acknowledged its connection to slavery, and I am pleased to see that it is expanding financial and educational resources for students who would normally not have access to Ivy League schools, and certainly the HBCU connection,” who attended Howard.

In his email, Harvard University President Baku said a committee would explore turning the recommendations into action and that the university’s board of directors had authorized $100 million to be implemented, while keeping some of the money in an endowment.

“Slavery and its legacy have been a part of American life for more than 400 years,” Paco wrote. “Working to further address its persistent effects will require our sustained and ambitious efforts for years to come.”

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

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(Michela Moscovo reports). Editing by Donna Bryson, Jonathan Otis and Mark Porter

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