Harvard University pledges to spend $100 million on research and atonement for its ties to slavery
BOSTON (AP) — Harvard University is pledging $100 million to research and atone for its close ties to slavery, the school’s president announced Tuesday, with plans to identify and support descendants direct from dozens of slaves who worked on the Ivy League campus.
President Lawrence Bacow announced the funding as Harvard released a new report detailing many of the ways the college profited from slavery and perpetrated racial inequality.
The report, commissioned by Bacow, found that Harvard faculty, staff and leaders had enslaved more than 70 black and Native Americans since the school’s founding in 1636 to 1783. For decades after, a- he added, Harvard scholars continued to promote concepts that fueled ideas. of white supremacy.
In a post on campus, Bacow said many would find the report “disturbing and shocking,” and he acknowledged the school was “perpetuating deeply immoral practices.”
“Therefore, I believe we have a moral responsibility to do what we can to address the continuing corrosive effects of these historic practices on individuals, on Harvard, and on our society,” he wrote.
Along with its findings, the 130-page report includes recommendations endorsed by Bacow. The university will create a new $100 million fund to carry out the work, which includes building stronger relationships with historically black colleges and expanding education to underserved areas.
He also called on Harvard to identify direct descendants of slaves and engage them through dialogue and educational support.
“Through such efforts, these descendants can rediscover their stories, tell their stories, and pursue empowering knowledge,” the report said.
Harvard is among a growing number of American universities working to recognize and address their historical ties to slavery.
Harvard began its work in 2016 when former president Drew Gilpin Faust acknowledged the school was “directly complicit in America’s system of racial servitude” and created a committee to study the matter. Bacow commissioned the new report in 2019, building on that work.
“The Harvard I knew, while far from perfect, always tried to be better – to bring our lived experience ever closer to our high ideals,” Bacow wrote. “By releasing this report and committing to act on its recommendations, we are continuing a long tradition of meeting the challenges ahead.”