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.”
“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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