In April 2022, Harvard University released the report of the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery. The report is organized around three themes that expose the interconnections among Harvard, slavery, and its legacies. Specifically:
- Direct ties: Harvard leaders, faculty, and staff enslaved more than 70 people that we know of during the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Financial ties: Five men who made their fortunes from slavery and slave-produced goods accounted for over one-third of all private donations and financial pledges to the University in the first half of the 19th century.
- Intellectual ties: In the 19th and 20th centuries, Harvard faculty and leaders promoted now debunked theories of race science and eugenics, ideas that underpinned Jim Crow segregation and fascism and are still used to rationalize the subordination of nonwhites.
In response to the report and its recommendations, Harvard University established the Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery (H&LS) initiative as a firm commitment to the active pursuit of long-lasting, meaningful repair. The initiative comprises a team of dedicated and talented individuals, led by the Executive Director, Roeshana Moore-Evans, and overseen by the Vice Provost for Special Projects, Sara Bleich. The team is responsible for shepherding the University’s reparative work, which is defined as purposeful actions aimed at repairing the past harm done, preventing further harm, and ensuring that the same harm does not happen again.
Several efforts have been launched to kick start the reparative work ahead. These efforts include:
- Designing a program to support K-12 teachers and schools in educating students about slavery and its lasting impact, using approved curricula.
- Building a physical memorial on Harvard's campus to acknowledge and honor the enslaved individuals who contributed to Harvard's founding, growth, and evolution. This process is being spearheaded by the Legacy of Slavery Memorial Project Committee.
- Partnering with the HBCU Library Alliance to establish the HBCU Digital Library Trust, which aims to digitize and preserve collections of African-American history.
- Establishing the Harvard Slavery Remembrance Program, which utilizes genealogical research to identify the descendants of those who were enslaved by Harvard's leaders, faculty, and staff.
- Providing funding for the"Responsibility & Repair" conference, an event that seeks to foster a national dialogue, advance research, and establish partnerships with Indigenous communities by bringing together Native and university leaders.
For more information about the H&LS initiative and the work ahead, please visit and bookmark our website.