Speaking at the 2021 Annual Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition conference on the campus of Yale University, Peter Salovey officially recognized the university’s historical ties to slavery and the slave trade and announced the planned construction of a memorial recognizing enslaved people in Yale’s history. Because the descendants of enslaved people do not have equal access to higher education, President Salovey also pledged to strengthen Yale’s relationship with historically Black and Indigenous universities, repairing harm and reducing the price of a college education to “create pathways for students to move among our institutions to enhance their studies.”
Research by the Yale and Slavery Working Group found that enslaved people worked on the construction of Connecticut Hall on campus and that many leading figures associated with the early eras of the university held enslaved people.
“Like many of America’s oldest institutions, Yale has seldom, if ever, recognized the labor, the experiences, and the contributions of enslaved people and their descendants to our university’s history or our present,” Dr. Salovey said. “For generations, we have looked away from what is in plain sight. But now we are acknowledging that slavery, the slave trade, and abolition are part of Yale’s history. It is important we shine a light into every concealed corner of our past, because moving forward requires an honest reckoning with our history, and because the purpose of our university is to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge.”