Ebony and Ivy: Disturbing Power

(we apologize for the formatting issues…working on the fix)

Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities

About Craig Steven Wilder     2013 INTERVIEW: NPR
Media of Ebony and IvyA 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution’s complex and contested involvement in slavery-setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country.
But Brown’s troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.
Many of America’s revered colleges and universities-from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC-were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color.  
The earliest academies proclaimed their mission to Christianize the savages of North America, and played a key role in white conquest.  Later, the slave economy and higher education grew up together, each nurturing the other.  Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors.  Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders.  Significantly, as Wilder shows, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.
Ebony and Ivy is a powerful and propulsive study and the first of its kind, revealing a history of oppression behind the institutions usually considered the cradle of liberal politics.
See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/ebony-and-ivy-9781608193837/#sthash.Xsxehihw.dpuf
Harvard Law School is changing their controversial seal. This mock seal was created by students in protest of the seal. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

On March 21 2016, Harvard Law School decided to officially change its seal — the slave-owning Royall family coat of arms will be scrubbed from the school logo by next year. But what does this latest cleansing of university history mean in the larger context of elite education and its racist past?

According to Craig Steven Wilder, professor of history at MIT, “The American academy never stood apart from American slavery—it stood beside church and state as the third pillar of a civilization built on bondage.”

Listen at: http://radioboston.wbur.org/2016/03/16/elite-universities-slavery


“It is Mr. Wilder’s vast and often seemingly banal catalog of mercantile transactions, charitable bequests, and academic and administrative appointments-all links in the chain that joins universities to slavery-that lends the book its disturbing power… a passionate recounting of the collective dehumanization of African-Americans coincident with the rise in power and prestige of the Atlantic college, particularly the Ivy League.” –  Wall Street Journal

TOP PHOTO: Columbia UniversityTo demonstrate just how ingrained slavery was to the 18th century academy, Wilder pointed to a flier that was published by the New-York Post Boy and Weekly Gazette that announced the swearing-in ceremony for the trustees of King’s College, which would later become Columbia University.

The advertisement on the flier read:

“Two likely Negro Boys, and a girl, to be Sold. Inquire of William Griffith, opposite Beekman slip.”


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