MIT historian Craig Wilder documents links between universities and slavery

tags: slavery, higher education




In 2006, Brown University made headlines by releasing a report documenting the institution’s historical links to slavery. As the university confirmed, it had accepted donations from slave owners and slave traders, dating to its founding in 1764.

That report turned heads both because of its thoroughness and because of Brown’s geographic location, in New England. Many Southern universities had obviously been enmeshed with slavery, even owning slaves. But as Brown’s report suggested, colleges and universities up and down the East Coast had deep connections to slavery prior to 1865.

“Even institutions we see as fairly benign are enveloped in this system, this Atlantic economy,” says Craig Wilder, a professor of history and head of the history faculty at MIT. “That economy was heavily rooted in the slave trade.”...

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