Yale announces plans for more 'inclusive' campus to make up for its 'legacy of slavery'

The New Haven, Connecticut institution’s apology comes after completing a project launched in 2020 to explore its 'complex past.'

Yale has committed resources to address 'systemic issues that echo in our nation’s legacy of slavery.'

After “[c]onfronting a [p]ainful [h]istory,” Yale University has decided to formally apologize for its “legacy of slavery,” in addition to unveiling plans to becoming more “inclusive.” 

The New Haven, Connecticut institution’s apology comes after completing a project launched in 2020 to explore its “complex past.”

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In an official statement published on Feb. 16, Yale leadership announced that beginning in October 2020, the university “embarked on a journey” to better understand its “formative ties to slavery and the slave trade” by conducting the Yale and Slavery Research Project, led by History Professor David Blight.

“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,” President Peter Salovey and Yale Senior Trustee Josh Bekenstein write in their joint statement.

“Acknowledging and apologizing for this history are only part of the path forward,” they continue.

Salovey and Bekenstein acknowledge that “the research findings make clear that Yale’s foundations are inextricably bound with the economic and political systems of slavery.”

To rectify this, Yale has committed to undertake reparatory “actions based upon the Research Project’s findings and our university’s history.” It will aim to address “systemic issues that echo in our nation’s legacy of slavery.” 

More specifically, the university aims to promote “educational access” for youth in the New Haven area. Yale announced that it is launching the “Yale and Slavery Teachers Institute Program” in 2025, which will be “a four-year teacher’s institute … to foster innovation in the ways regional history is taught.”

“Each year, a cohort of teachers will engage with partners within and outside of the university community to study content and methods related to a particular theme, using the book Yale and Slavery: A History as a springboard,” the statement says.

The program will, according to the statement, “help K-12 teachers in New England meet new state mandates for incorporating Black and Indigenous history into their curricula.”

The university is also distributing copies Yale and Slavery to all New Haven libraries and high schools, in addition to local churches and other groups.

Yale has also stated that it is planning on announcing a “significant new investment” into “HBCUs across the country” in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the university announced that it “recently signed a ten-year letter of intent for space at Dixwell Plaza to support the development of a state-of-the-art mixed-use retail, residential, and cultural hub in Dixwell’s historically Black community center.”

Campus tours will now be updated to include a “more accurate understanding of Yale’s history” and provide insight into “key findings” of the slavery research project.

In a section titled “Acknowledging our Past,” Salovey and Bekenstein discuss the Yale Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement, which has been tasked with the “commission [of] works of art and related programming to address Yale’s historical roles in and associations with slavery and the slave trade.”

The Ivy League school also intends to “transform” the colonial era Connecticut Hall into a place of “healing and communion.” 

“The Yale Committee for Art Representing Enslavement will make recommendations for how the building’s history with slavery can be acknowledged and made evident through art,” the statement notes.

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In their concluding remarks, Salovey and Bekenstein write, “Today, we mark one milestone in our journey to creating a stronger and more inclusive Yale and to confronting deeply rooted challenges in society to do our part in building ‘the beloved community’ envisioned by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Campus Reform has contacted Yale University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.