Harvard Creates $100M Reparations Fund to ‘Redress’ University’s Connection to Slavery

Harvard University has announced they are setting up a $100 million fund to redress its ties to slavery in the past.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Harvard President Lawrence Bacow sent an email to students, faculty, and staff Tuesday addressing the university’s new $100 million commitment towards descendants of Black and Native American people who once were enslaved at the school.
  • Bacow announced the program in an email, according to Reuters, and included a lengthy report by a University committee consisting of 14-members called the “Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery.”
  • “Slavery and its legacy have been a part of American life for more than 400 years,” Bacow wrote in the email. “The work of further redressing its persistent effects will require our sustained and ambitious efforts for years to come.”
  • The “Legacy of Slavery Fund” will serve as “a necessary predicate to and foundation for redress,” but will not distribute financial reparations, according to a report also released in the email.
  • The fund is just one of the measures that the university has put into place to attempt to bridge the “educational, social, and economic gaps that are legacies of slavery and racism.”
MORE ON HARVARD’S REPARATIONS RATIONALE:
  • The investigation that led to the fund being set up was prompted by a look at the impact of slavery, discrimination, and racism on Americans today.
  • The panel’s report outlined the history of slaves working on campus and the benefit that the University has experienced because of those labors.
  • The laboring documented in the report ended in 1783 when Massachusetts outlawed slavery, roughly 147 years after Harvard’s founding.
  • “Harvard benefited from and in some ways perpetuated practices that were profoundly immoral. 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,” said Bacow.
BACKGROUND:
  • The 100-page report originated from a panel that was chaired by legal historian and constitutional law expert Tomiko Brown-Nagin who serves as the dean of Harvard’s interdisciplinary Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  • Also included in the report was the purpose behind the research, which is aimed to provide a foundation for the upcoming “the process of reckoning and repair.”
  • Other recommendations include that the school should fund summer programs that would bring students and faculty from underfunded Black colleges and universities to Harvard and send Harvard students and faculty to the historically Black institutions.