Allegra di Bonaventura is an assistant dean at Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Her review of the new Bloomsbury book, “Ebony & Ivy,” by Craig Steven Wilder, will do more to heat up the Yale-Harvard rivalry than almost any of those historic athletic contests.
For Wilder has written a book review in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 2 that included the following:
- “Most people are still surprised to hear that there were once slaves at Harvard. Yet the university’s first instructor and school master, Nathaniel Eaton, owned a ‘Moor’ who served Harvard students as early as the 1630s.”
- “During the next century, university-owned properties housed slaveholders and traders …”
- “As late as the 1830s, abolitionist Charles Follen was forced to resign from the Harvard faculty for his anti-slavery beliefs.”
- “Philadelphia merchant John Inglis supported the founding of Penn (the University of Pennsylvania) as trustee using profits from the slave trade; Benjamin Silliman’s mother financed his Yale education by selling two slaves from the family’s home in Fairfield, Conn. … [T]he namesake of one of the school’s storied residential colleges would advocate for abolition in his later years.”
- “[M]any Northerners embraced a movement for African colonization by Christian African-Americans. The contorted logic of prejudice allowed Northerners to embrace black ‘removal’ enthusiastically, since it rested on the ‘moral and scientific truth’ that the races were distinct and would thrive apart.”
Surely the large number of Ivy League alumni who were killed in action during the Civil War – because they believed in emancipation and so enlisted in the Union army – more than redeems the stigma of their academic forebears who owned slaves.
So did the considerable number of white Southerners who participated in the Selma march and so many other protests against racial segregation.
They stand in such distinct contrast to the still racially segregated Congressional Black Caucus.
When can this nation expect a release from this reverse racism?
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