Harvard President ignores Browne’s request, announces initiative to Study Harvard's Ties to Slavery instead

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Just about three weeks after Prime Minister Gaston Browne penned a letter to the President of Harvard University, Lawrence Bacow, demanding reparations from Harvard for its historical ties to slavery, Bacow has announced the creation of a University-wide initiative to address and further research the school’s ties to slavery.

This was declared via an email Bacow sent to Harvard affiliates on Thursday, 21st November, reports indicate.

On October 30th, 2019, Browne wrote a letter to the Bacow, asking the university to pay reparations for the benefits reaped from Antiguan plantation owner, Isaac Royall Jr.

Bacow responded to that letter about a week later detailing the “significant steps” the University has taken to acknowledge the contribution of slaves including the installation of a memorial commemorating the enslaved individuals that contributed to Harvard Law School’s founding and the removal of the Law School’s seal in 2016 which contained the Royall family crest.

But Browne was not satisfied with Bacow’s response and said that he would not let Harvard off the hook just yet.

He said that Harvard’s US $5 billion budget would not be dented if the University offers to “help us to build capacity” by developing a law school in Antigua and Barbuda at the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus.

Nevertheless, Bacow reportedly opted to launch the initiative that will focus on researching further Harvard’s connections to the slave trade and to the abolition movement.

“It is my hope that the work of this new initiative will help the university gain important insights about our past and the enduring legacy of slavery — while also providing an ongoing platform for our conversations about our present and our future as a university community committed to having our minds opened and improved by learning,” Bacow’s email stated, according to another media entity.

Bacow is said to have selected the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies’ Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin to be the head of a new University-wide faculty committee that will lead the initiative, and has designated $5 million for the programme.

And Bacow reportedly wrote that the Radcliffe Institute will work closely with library and museum staff to host both programmes and academic opportunities related to the issue.

“By engaging a wide array of interests and expertise, as Radcliffe is uniquely suited to do, this initiative will reflect the remarkable power of bringing together individuals from across Harvard in pursuit of a common purpose,” the media house said quoting the email.

It was also reported that other faculty on the 12-person committee will include former Law School Dean, Martha Minow, and former Dean of the College, Evelynn Hammonds.

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