Disclosures on Racism and Slavery in Higher Ed
Posing challenges to the integrity and reputations of colleges and universities
Creating opportunities for discourse and inclusion
2020 was a turbulent year, with police brutality and social unrest compounded by a public health crisis and the inequities both events exposed. There has been considerable social reckoning and critical examination of the nation’s past. While the events of 2020 were catalysts for reflection and action, organizations with long histories dating back to before the Civil War have been examining their pasts since before the events of the past tumultuous year.
The ties between benefactors, founders, and public servants and systems of racial inequality, racism, and even slavery have led to tarnished reputations of some institutions of higher education. Instead of hiding or denying accusations the best course of action is to confront and address problematic history. Learning about your organization’s past can help mend historical wrongs and allow institutions to make changes that create opportunities for discourse and inclusion.
Connections to slavery, racist ideology, and controversy are not unique to higher education, but can pose challenges to the integrity and reputations of colleges and universities. Across the United States, buildings, plaques, statues, and other imagery on college and university campuses commemorate historical figures with racist ideologies and dealings. Often, these people were benefactors of the school or institution in question and played key roles in founding or financing it.