As other prestigious universities such as Georgetown, Brown and Princeton have already decided to do, Harvard has announced this Tuesday that it will allocate 100 million dollars to create a fund destined to continue with the investigation of the history of slavery and work together with the descendants of blacks and Native Americans who were enslaved by that educational institution.
The statement made public on Tuesday ensures that a committee of experts has addressed the university’s “extensive links with slavery” and how enslaved people played “an important role” in its institutional history, including the work of more than 70 slaves who supported Harvard faculty members, staff, and presidents, and that enriched “numerous donors and, ultimately, the institution.”
“Harvard profited from and in some way perpetuated practices that were deeply immoral,” the statement read, adding that the university community has a “moral responsibility” to do what it can to “address the persistent corrosive effects of these practices.” historical practices in people, in Harvard and in our society”.
Harvard’s financial commitment is measured on a par with the $100 million pledged by the leaders of the Jesuit priests’ conference in March 2021 for racial reconciliation and to benefit the descendants of 272 slaves sold in 1838 to pay the debts of Georgetown University.
Much of Harvard’s history on slavery and racial discrimination has been known for years. But the current report has sought to deepen that knowledge. Thus, it is established that five men who made their fortunes with slavery and the basic products produced by slaves accounted for more than a third of the donations or financial promises that Harvard received from individuals during the first half of the nineteenth century.
In turn, the prestigious institution was home to intellectuals who promoted “racial science” and eugenics in the 19th and 20th centuries. His theories and research, including the collection of photographs of enslaved people and nude students, provided crucial support for those seeking to justify white supremacy and other racist ideologies. The university’s museum collections also contain human remains believed to belong to indigenous peoples and slaves of African descent.
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The bottom line is stark: The Massachusetts-based university, founded in 1636 and the oldest in the United States, owes its massive fortune largely to leaders who grew rich off the labor of enslaved people.
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