The Ivy League and Slavery

Slavery in the Ivy League, Ivy League Slavery, Ivy League and Slavery Times

As an editorial in “The Boston Globe” points out, Brown University has ties to slavery. So too do many highly selective colleges. After all, these schools were founded in the times of slavery. What’s interesting to analyze is how these schools have shaped their narratives since, as Northwestern’s Jennifer Richeson points out.

There is an interesting article on the Ivy League’s ties with the institution of slavery in “The Boston Globe” written by a Northwestern University psychology professor, Jennifer Richeson. Professor Richeson previously taught at Dartmouth and she happens to cite an MIT professor, Craig Wilder, who also happened to teach at Dartmouth. Coincidence? We think not. The two have Ivy League ties themselves! But, anyway, back to the topic at hand…Professor Richeson’s piece in “The Boston Globe” points out the troubling ties that Ivy League schools had with the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

As she writes, “In 2003, Brown University president Ruth Simmons opened an investigation into the school’s role in the slave trade. The findings exhumed unsettling accounts of the many ways in which important founders of the institution participated in and benefited from slavery, including the use of slave labor to construct the oldest and most iconic building on campus, University Hall. Rather than burying these revelations, university president Christina Paxon dedicated a slavery memorial sculpture that now sits on the campus main green during the school’s 250th anniversary celebrations this September, and, in October, a new Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice was opened. Each of these initiatives stemmed from university officials’ desire to acknowledge and make amends.”

Professor Richeson goes on to discuss the psychology of a redemption narrative for universities and individuals. It’s quite a compelling read so be sure to check it out. As schools such as Brown University were founded back in the times of slavery, it should be no surprise that these institutions participated in the inhumane institution. How these institutions have shaped their narratives since is quite compelling. Oh, and while you’re here, Ivy Coach has ties to the important subject of American slavery too (in a good way). We’ve got ties to a movie starring Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith about abolitionist John Brown in the lead up to his raid on Harper’s Ferry, the catalyst for the Civil War, and we’ve got ties to a TV series to star Kelsey Grammer about the Underground Railroad. Don’t believe us? You’ll see a name in those articles you might recognize.


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