Yale University apologizes for its ties to slavery

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The Ivy League institution said it established the Yale and Slavery Research Project as part of an initiative to strengthen diversity, advance equity, and foster an atmosphere of inclusion, and respect.

Yale University has apologized for its historical connection to slavery.

The Ivy League institution said in a news release on Friday that the apology is a component of its “ongoing work to understand its history and connections to slavery,” which includes its Yale and Slavery Research Project and launching several actions and initiatives based on the project’s findings, according to CNN.

“Confronting this history helps us to build a stronger community and realize our aspirations to create a better future,” said Yale’s president, Peter Salovey. “Today, on behalf of Yale University, we recognize our university’s historical role in and associations with slavery, as well as the labor, the experiences, and the contributions of enslaved people to our university’s history, and we apologize for the ways that Yale’s leaders, throughout our early history, participated in slavery.”

Yale University slavery
Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, an Ivy League institution, has apologized for its role in slavery. (Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images)

The press release asserted that several of Yale’s early leaders and founders were enslavers, with the work of enslaved people contributing to the construction of Connecticut Hall, the oldest building on campus. Notable Yale alums also worked with New Haven authorities in 1831 to thwart a proposed college for Black men, which would have been the first in the U.S.

Yale has joined the ranks of prominent institutions grappling with their historical ties to racism and slavery. When he was president of Harvard, Lawrence Bacow announced in April 2022 that the university would devote $100 million to studying and resolving its “extensive entanglements with slavery.”

Princeton decided in June 2020 to remove President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public Policy and Residential College, citing his “racist thinking and policies.”

At Brown, students voted in March 2021 in favor of reparations for those descended from enslaved people – a move that came 15 years after a report on the university’s connections to slavery.

Yale also plans to release “Yale and Slavery: A History,” a book by professor David W. Blight with the Yale and Slavery Research Project.

“The university’s actions in response to the findings focus on increasing educational access; advancing inclusive economic growth; better reflecting its history across campus; and creating widespread access to Yale’s historical findings,” per the news release, CNN reported.

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