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Harvard has a long legacy of slave owning

In a new report out today, Harvard University acknowledges a history that included being run by slaveholders right from the start:

Over nearly 150 years, from the University’s founding in 1636 until the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found slavery unlawful in 1783, Harvard presidents and other leaders, as well as its faculty and staff, enslaved more than 70 individuals, some of whom labored on campus.

Enslaved men and women served Harvard presidents and professors and fed and cared for Harvard students.

The report continues that Harvard didn't stop benefiting from slavery just because it was outlawed here:

Moreover, throughout this period and well into the 19th century, the University and its donors benefited from extensive financial ties to slavery. These profitable financial relationships included, most notably, the beneficence of donors who accumulated their wealth through slave trading; from the labor of enslaved people on plantations in the Caribbean islands and in the American South; and from the Northern textile manufacturing industry, supplied with cotton grown by enslaved people held in bondage. The University also profited from its own financial investments, which included loans to Caribbean sugar planters, rum distillers, and plantation suppliers along with investments in cotton manufacturing.⁠ The balance of the university's financial ties shifted over time; with the development of industrial capitalism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the plantation economy evolved, and cotton began to take center stage. Northern textile industrialists interacted with the institution of slavery through the cotton trade; enslaved laborers produced the cotton that was the engine of textile production and, therefore, of the region's economy. Senator Sumner called this vital economic link between the industrial North and the slaveholding South an "unhallowed alliance between the lords of the lash and the lords of the loom."

And then, in the 20th century, Harvard turned its attention to Jews, but that's a whole other report.

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Comments

Water is wet.

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Voting closed 62

Anyone who is wealthy more than likley had slaves back then. This sounds about right when you mention Harvard. Anyone who is wealthy has slaves now....only the slaves are paid a lowly wage, and have to cater to privileged Harvard Law or Harvard Business grads who run big law firms, famous food brands, famous closing brands, janitorial companies that clean up after the priviledged in skyscrapers, etc.

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Voting closed 38

Slavery in Massachusetts had similar footing in the trades. Blacksmiths, cobblers, chocolate makers, silversmiths etc prefered to buy 12-13 year old children that they could train to do skilled labaor. Unlike apprenticeships, the enslaved children were bound for life and would never strike out on their own. And if the slaveholder was shot on cash, he could now sell the skilled slave or hire him or her out to another household.

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Voting closed 32

Comparing people who make a 'lowly wage' today to chattel slavery is absolutely amazing. Like, really fucking amazing. You are an incredibly stupid person and I wish you only the worst in life.

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Voting closed 23

A better comparison would be we are today's serfs. Instead of lords, we have CEOs.

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Voting closed 11

Not even close.

Also, those who make low wages in the US and Western Europe have it better than nearly every other country in the world.

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Voting closed 8

Yes that is true but while it is a US problem, the companies we work for control a lot. They rake in record profits but give pennies to the employees and billionaires are sending space ships to outer space for fun. I feel a little bit like cattle when I get off of the T to work everyday. The inequality in this country is at record highs and we are in a new gilded age.

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Voting closed 14

In order to get pretty much any decently-waged, non-trade job, you have to have a Bachelors education.

In order to afford said education, you have to take out loans to pay for the education up front and then pay them back at a deferred date.

This is the exact basis of indentured servitude. The only difference is that the jobs to pay back the loans are not held by the college. If you go to work for the college that you earned your degree at to pay back the loans you took out in order to attend that college...well, that's just indentured servitude with more steps.

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Voting closed 14

There’s many jobs for non-degree holders that pay well (i.e. sales). Are you going to make a lot of money when you start out? No, but the potential is there.

I would argue that there’s also plenty of colleges and education programs that do not a require a loan. You could also get tuition reimbursement, if you worked somewhere that offered that.

People have such low expectations of themselves.

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Voting closed 9

They are becoming fewer and far between. Many entry level jobs require a college degree and it is becoming like a high school degree from my parents time. Getting an apprenticeship in the unions is very hard and competitive.

Community colleges might not require a loan but 4 year programs? Not much or you have rich parents.

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Voting closed 11

Tuition reimbursement means your employer pays your college tuition and receiving it is dependent on you working for them (often for an extended period past the reimbursement because they don't pay for your college out of the kindness of their heart, they want you to employ for them the knowledge that they paid for...otherwise, they penalize you for the cost of the reimbursement).

Indentured servants often had their contracts purchased by others and moved around until their debt was paid off too.

PS - Try getting a sales job without any experience OR degree. Hope your parents rolled a natural 20 on charisma for you.

PPS - Anyways, my point, somewhat jokingly, was to point out that at current costs, colleges (particularly on the "level" of Harvard) cost SO much and have become the baseline for SO many jobs, that it is easy to identify key aspects of the modern day equivalency of slavery/indentured servitude from the system. Given Harvard's desire to come clean on its past, the question should be whether they've learned any lessons that could be applied to the present or not...or if they're just hoping that acknowledging the past will let them continue the pattern without guilt.

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Voting closed 12

"Nice shootin' Tex!"

You forgot DAVOS, Area 51, The Loch Ness Monster, and the Tri-Lateral Commission.

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Voting closed 8

So, over its long legacy of slave holding, how many slaves were owned by Harvard University?

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Voting closed 17

You might want to look up the source of the wealth that built those stately colonial mansions near Harvard and the slave owning ways of others who also contributed to Harvard's endowments.

Even if Harvard University never owned slaves, that doesn't mean their money isn't crimson.

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Voting closed 26

Is dirty money and always has been. They’re still at it no matter what they say.

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/harvards-half-billion-land-stake-in-br...

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Voting closed 23

So, is this just the start, will there be reparations for all of Harvard University's past transgressions?

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Voting closed 15

the committee that authored the report included recommendations for reparations, and the university has pledged $100 million dollars for immediate and ongoing actions to that effect.

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Voting closed 5

Are they going to have to rename Harvard?

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Voting closed 9

Seems like that would have been a highlight of the report if he had.

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Voting closed 11

Harvard University will soon be renamed Nubian University.

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Voting closed 27

There was a "colorful" Cambridge City Councilor in the early 80's who was actually one of the first people to say maybe all those life science companies should be careful with what they were doing, but he also hated Harvard so much that he tried to rename Harvard Square Christopher Columbus Square.

If he had succeeded we would now have had that Spiderman meme pointing fingers at each other on just how evil the action of each was.

Based on the endowment, If Harvard had $100 to its name, it just spent under a penny to "atone" for its sins.

Big deal.

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Voting closed 18

Some things never change.

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Voting closed 7

Harvard undergrads shouldn't need loans, since some years back they eliminated the family contribution from financial aid calculations.

This doesn't apply to the graduate and professional schools.

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Voting closed 3