Welcome, and a Call to Action
Welcome to the Presidential Initiative on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery, a University-wide effort anchored at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and guided by a committee of faculty members drawn from every Harvard school.
In the winter of 2020, Harvard President Larry Bacow committed our University to examining Harvard’s significant connections to slavery and its legacies through research, engagement, and programming, and he charged our newly formed faculty committee with issuing a public report on our findings and recommendations for further action. On April 26, 2022, President Bacow released our report, accepted our recommendations in their entirety, and announced a historic commitment of $100 million to fund their implementation. Yet even this critical step is just a beginning. There is a long road ahead in our pursuit of meaningful repair.
If you are new to this effort, I encourage you to start with the report itself. As I have often said over the past few years, we cannot dismantle what we do not understand, and we cannot understand the contemporary injustice we face unless we reckon honestly with our history.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a unique and difficult historical moment, one that has laid bare centuries of systemic racism, profound injustice, and chronic inaction. My own hope for a more just country—one that lives up to its promise of freedom and equality, regardless of race—rests on our capacity as individuals and as a society to engage thoughtfully and fearlessly with the questions confronting our nation. This means examining our past as well as our present.
This is the task before us.
We have investigated, documented, and shared the University’s connections to slavery. Now we must engage our community in the work of understanding and remedying the legacies of slavery that continue to shadow our society. I call on you to join us in pursuing this vital work.