Foreign prime minister demands Harvard pay slavery reparations

Foreign prime minister demands Harvard pay slavery reparations

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The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda recently wrote a letter to the president of Harvard University demanding slavery reparations from the school.

The story: Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne sent Harvard President Lawrence Bacow a letter on Oct. 30, demanding slavery reparations due to the role slaves played in the creation of the Ivy League school.

“Reparation from Harvard would compensate for its development on the backs of our people,” Browne wrote. “Reparation is not aid; it is not a gift; it is compensation to correct the injustices of the past and restore equity. Harvard should be in the forefront of this effort,” according to the Harvard Crimson.

Browne argued that reparations are necessary due to the use of Antigua and Barbudan slaves by individuals like Antiguan plantation owner and slave trader Isaac Royall, who donated money to form the first endowed law professorship in 1815, according to the Crimson.

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Browne also pointed out that Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald M. Sanders, previously wrote to Bacow and former University President Drew G. Faust in October 2016 that the reparations would be used to improve education in the Caribbean country.

“Ambassador Sanders pointed out that, consequently, the reputation that Harvard enjoys internationally is intertwined with the dark legacy of Royall’s Antigua slaves who died in oppression, uncompensated for their lives in slavery and their death in cruelty,” Browne wrote in his letter. “In this context, he sought a genuine effort by Harvard to make amends to the people of Antigua for the gains Harvard enjoyed at the expense of their kinfolk."

In response to the letter on Tuesday, Bacow wrote: “We recognize that there is more work to be done. Indeed, Harvard is determined to take additional steps to explore this institution's historical relationship with slavery and the challenging moral questions that arise when confronting past injustices and their legacies. Harvard is also committed to working with other educational institutions to study slavery and its legacy.”

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