Harvard University is setting aside $100 million for an endowment fund and additional measures in order to help close the educational, social, and economic gaps that are legacies of slavery and racism.
Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow emailed students, faculty, and staff this week with a 100-page report conducted by his university’s 14-member committee on Harvard and the legacy of slavery. Bacow acknowledged that the elite institution helped to perpetuate racial oppression and exploitation, and announced the funding in reparations.
The panel was chaired by legal historian and constitutional law expert Tomiko Brown-Nagin, who is the dean of Harvard’s interdisciplinary Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
The move by Harvard comes amid a wider ongoing discussion about the impacts of centuries of slavery, discrimination, and racism. People have called for reparations, including financial ones.
The report laid out a history of slaves toiling on the campus, and of the university directly benefitting from the slave trade as well as industries that were linked to slavery, even after it was outlawed in Massachusetts in 1783. This was 147 years after Harvard was founded.
The report said that Harvard helped to perpetuate the era’s racial oppression and exploitation.
The authors of the report recommended offering descendants of people who were enslaved at Harvard educational support and other support in order to recover histories, pursue empowering knowledge and tell their stories.
Other recommendations included that the Ivy League school fund programs to bring in students and faculty from long-underfunded historically Black colleges and universities across the nation to Harvard and to send Harvard students and faculty to the Black institutions.
Bacow wrote that slavery and its legacy have been part of American life for more than 400 years and that the work to redress its effects will require sustained, ambitious efforts for years to come. He said the committee will explore transforming recommendations into action.