Harvard President Drew Faust Will Dedicate Plaque to Honor Harvard Slaves

Historians in the News
tags: slavery, Harvard



At a time when long-buried legacies of racism at Harvard have increasingly fueled campus discourse, University President Drew G. Faust will dedicate a memorial to slaves who worked at Harvard in the 18th century.

Faust wrote an op-ed in The Crimson Wednesday announcing that she will undertake several initiatives to unearth and reflect on Harvard’s history of slavery. Next Wednesday, Faust wrote, she will dedicate a plaque on Wadsworth House—a yellow-paneled building on the Yard’s fringe—in honor of four slaves who lived and worked there nearly 300 years ago.

Faust wrote that she has convened a committee of Harvard faculty to propose other similar memorials on campus, and the Radcliffe Institute will host “a major conference on universities and slavery” next spring.

The plaque at Wadsworth will bear the names of Bilhah, Venus, Titus, and Juba, four enslaved people who labored in the house under Harvard’s early presidents. Congressman John R. Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights activist, will join Faust in installing the plaque on April 6.

“Until now, these laborers and their contributions, as well as the broader participation of people of color in early life at Harvard, have been all but invisible,” Faust wrote in her op-ed. “The plaque is the beginning of an effort to remember them and our shared history.” ...




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