Yale Apologizes For Past Ties To Slavery

Vanderbilt Hall stands on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut. (Craig Warga/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

By Jay Croft, CNN

(CNN) — Yale University has issued a formal apology for its historical ties to slavery.

The apology is part of Yale’s “ongoing work to understand its history and connections to slavery,” the university said in a news release Friday.

Yale also announced the release of a book, “Yale and Slavery: A History,” by professor David W. Blight with the Yale and Slavery Research Project, and a range of actions and initiatives based on the project’s findings.

“Confronting this history helps us to build a stronger community and realize our aspirations to create a better future,” Yale President Peter Salovey said in the release. “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, throughout our early history, participated in slavery.”

Some of Yale’s founders and early leaders owned enslaved people, the release says. Connecticut Hall, the oldest campus building, was partly built using enslaved labor. Also, prominent members of the Yale community joined with New Haven leaders in 1831 to stop a proposed college for Black youth, which would have been America’s first Black college.

“These findings have been shared publicly and addressed by Yale on an ongoing basis during the research process,” the release says.

“The university’s actions in response to the findings focus on increasing educational access; advancing inclusive economic growth; better reflecting its history across campus; and creating widespread access to Yale’s historical findings.

“The Yale and Slavery Research Project is part of Yale’s broader Belonging work to enhance diversity, support equity, and promote an environment of welcome, inclusion, and respect.”

Yale joins other schools

Yale joins other prominent universities wrestling with legacies associated with slavery and racism.

In April 2022, Harvard dedicated $100 million to research and redress its “extensive entanglements with slavery,” President Lawrence Bacow said.

The university issued a report titled “Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery,” which documents how the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries “comprised a vital part of the New England economy, and powerfully shaped Harvard University.”

Students at Brown in March 2021 voted to support reparations for descendants of enslaved people. The vote came a decade after Brown issued a report on its ties to slavery.

Princeton voted in June 2020 to remove the name of President Woodrow Wilson from its school of public policy and a residential college, citing his “racist thinking and policies.”

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