Yale issues formal apology over its past connections to slavery

Yale University issued a formal apology on Friday over its past connections to slavery. 

The Ivy League school became the latest institution to apologize for its connections to slavery after spending years researching the subject.

“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, over the course of our early history, participated in slavery,” the school said in a statement. 

In the Friday release, the university also announced the release of the “Yale and Slavery: A History,” written by the school’s Pulitzer-prize-winning professor David W. Blight, with the Yale and Slavery Research Project. The school also shared a range of initiatives and actions it would pursue based on the findings of the school’s project. 

According to the release, some of the school’s early leaders and founders owned slaves. The school’s oldest campus building, Connecticut Hall, was constructed using “in part the labor of enslaved people.” The building is currently undergoing renovation. 

“Although there are no known records of Yale University owning enslaved people, many of Yale’s Puritan founders owned enslaved people, as did a significant number of Yale’s early leaders and other prominent members of the university community, and the Research Project has identified over 200 of these enslaved people,” the school said in the Friday statement. “The majority of those who were enslaved are identified as Black, but some are identified as Indigenous.” 

Yale is one of many educational institutions around the world grappling with its ties to slavery. A growing number of schools have made similar statements.

In 2022, Harvard University, another Ivy League school, pledged $100 million toward its endowment to look at its “extensive entanglements with slavery.” Princeton removed former Democratic President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the University’s School of Public and International Affairs in 2020, mentioning his “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school.”

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