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Harvard attempts to reckon with historical ties to slavery in new report


Nearly 80 Harvard University leaders, donors and staff members had owned enslaved people until slavery remained legal in Massachusetts in 1783, according to a report the university released Tuesday, reports NBC BLK. Written by members of a committee authorized by university President Lawrence Bacow, the 134-page report includes seven recommendations “to remedy the persistent educational and social harms that human bondage caused to descendants, to the campus community and to surrounding cities, the Commonwealth, and the nation,” according to the report.

The suggestions include developing educational partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, along with honoring enslaved people by investing in future generations of Black scholars.

The report is an extension of the Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, which Bacow established in 2019 with a mission of diving deep into the impact of slavery and its relationship to society’s present challenges rooted in racism. The university also appointed a committee chaired by Martha Minow, former dean of Harvard Law School, to move recommendations into action and committed $100 million to fund its initiative.

“The legacy of slavery, including the persistence of both overt and subtle discrimination against people of color, continues to influence the world in the form of disparities in education, health, wealth, income, social mobility and almost any other metric we might use to measure equality,” Bacow said in a statement. “Consequently, I believe we bear a moral responsibility to do what we can to address the persistent corrosive effects of those historical practices on individuals, on Harvard and on our society.”