Drew Faust: Says Harvard won't investigate its ties to slavery





Like many venerable American universities, Harvard’s past is tied to slavery: for decades, if not centuries, the University inculcated pro-slavery sentiment and benefitted from funds that were the fruits of the slave trade or slave labor. But unlike many of its peers—such as Brown and Yale—Harvard has never conducted a formal examination of its past.

And though the University has no plans to launch such an investigation, many feel the time is right for Harvard to do so, given that University President Drew G. Faust—a leading Civil War historian and a self-professed “civil-rights advocate and activist”—is at the helm.

“Harvard is perhaps uniquely positioned to engage in an exploration of our country’s history with slavery and its connection to the present,” says Alfred L. Brophy, an expert on civil rights litigation at the University of Alabama School of Law. “Now is a good time for Harvard to do more in terms of an investigation, and Drew Faust,

who is our nation’s leading historian of the Old South, is an ideal person to lead this process.”

But Faust said that despite her academic interests, she will not be calling for an institutional investigation of any kind, even while acknowledging that the question of Harvard’s entanglements with slavery is “intriguing” for students and professors to explore. “I’m not going to be doing this as a presidential project,” she said.



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