20 Apr MIT & the Legacy of Slavery – Community Dialogue
At an event on Feb 16, 2018, 250 members of the MIT community gathered to explore the initial findings from the “MIT and Slavery” class, first taught in the Fall of 2017.
News story about the event: http://bit.ly/2CEnF09
MIT President L. Rafael Reif, who catalyzed the “MIT and Slavery” course and research project, opened the event, saying “I believe the work of this class is important to the present — and to the future. Something I have always loved about the MIT community is that we seek, and we face, facts. What can history teach us now, as we work to invent the future? How can we make sure that the technologies we invent will contribute to making a better world for all?”
In addition to President Reif, the speakers included four students — Charlotte Minsky ’20, Kelvin Green II ’21, Mahi Elango ’20, and Alaisha Alexander ’18 — who presented their research findings; teaching assistant and PhD student Clare Kim; MIT Professor of History Craig Steven Wilder and MIT Archivist for Researcher Services Nora Murphy, who designed and co-taught the course; and Melissa Nobles, Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and a professor of political science. Gabrielle Ballard ’19, co-chair of the MIT Black Students Union, was MC for the event.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The first class of the ongoing “MIT and Slavery” undergraduate research project took place in the Fall of 2017 and the initial findings will be published in detail during the Spring 2018 term. Among other discoveries, the early findings: offer insights about the role of MIT in the post-Civil War era of Reconstruction; reveal examples of racism in the culture of the early campus; and uncover the fact that MIT’s founder, William Barton Rogers, owned six enslaved people in Virginia, before he moved to Massachusetts in 1853.
The findings also suggest new lines of research about the entangled relationship between the slave economies of the Atlantic world, the fields of science and engineering, and U.S. technical institutions. MIT seeks to encourage such new historical research and to contribute to the larger national conversation about the ongoing legacies of slavery — including how history helps us better understand the roles, impact, and responsibilities of science and technology institutions in contemporary society.
The “MIT and Slavery” research project will continue into the foreseeable future and its findings will be shared via a website (http://bit.ly/2BGQdal) that is accessible to the MIT community, scholars, the public, and the media.
Letter from MIT President L. Rafael Reif: http://bit.ly/2BU32kF
Video: MIT and the Legacy of Slavery: https://youtu.be/_iApKIZONqM
MIT News story by Peter Dizikes: http://bit.ly/2Bl0xH9
News story by SHASS Communications: http://bit.ly/2CEnF09
MIT and Slavery website: http://bit.ly/2BGQdal
Ebony and Ivy, by Craig Steven Wilder: http://nyti.ms/2BnUmCb MIT News story: about Ebony and Ivy: http://bit.ly/2bWboHA
Video by MIT Video Productions