University Sets Up $100M Fund For Slavery Reparations.


Harvard University will be setting aside $100,000,000 from its massive endowment to help close the racial divide that has put Blacks at a disadvantage since the time of slavery.

A one-hundred-page report entitled “Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery” details how the most famous university in the United States was complicit when it came to slavery and how the institution hopes to right its wrongs going forward.

The report details how Harvard leaders enslaved at least seventy people in the 1700s and 1800s when slavery was still a legal practice in the state of Massachusetts. It was not until 1783 that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that slavery was unconstitutional and was against the law of the land.

“Slavery and its legacy have been a part of American life for more than 400 years,” Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a letter. “The work of further redressing its persistent effects will require our sustained and ambitious efforts for years to come.”

In Harvard’s president’s letter, the educator describes how Harvard benefited from slavery and “in some ways perpetuated practices that were profoundly immoral.” When it came to free labor, Harvard was eager to have it and used enslaved people to support college leadership throughout the university’s 143 years when slavery was still legal in the state

“The labor of enslaved people both far and near enriched numerous donors and, ultimately, the institution,” Bacow said in the letter.

In the report, Harvard also admitted that it previously excluded Black students from its rosters and had educators who advocated the ways of racism.

Although Harvard certainly helped shape its fair share of abolitionists and anti-racist leaders, the school confesses that as “the nation’s oldest institution of higher education … (it) helped to perpetuate the era’s racial oppression and exploitation.”

Now, the people who authored the report proposed that Harvard support those who are descendants of people enslaved on the Harvard campus. The money from the fund could go to support these individuals as they “recover their histories, tell their stories, and pursue empowering knowledge.”

The fund also proposes that they use their money to pay for students and faculty from underfunded historically Black colleges to spend time at the Cambridge campus. The report also suggested that the school do what it can to work with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to help empower Black people in America today.

President Bacow wrote that the university has $100 million at its disposal for the implementation of anti-racist practices that could help undo some of the damage Harvard University caused by being complicit in the practice of slavery in America in the years after it was founded.

Harvard has not yet said when or how it will disperse the fund.

The author of the report, sociologist Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, told NPR that “reparations is about a debt that is still owed.”

“It’s also about acknowledgment and atonement,” she said. “And it’s also about trying to change the future.”

Higginbotham also said that the university should not view the $100 million as “the end of their responsibility” and that Harvard must continue to “look for ways in which it can address inequalities.”

What do you think about Harvard University’s $100 million fund for slavery reparations?