Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders of Antigua and Barbuda has called upon Harvard University to pay reparations to his countrymen, “some of whom are descendants of slaves” owned by the Royall family.
Isaac Royall Jr. provided the university with its first law professorship, which eventually led to Harvard Law School.
The Harvard Crimson reports that last week Sanders sent a letter to Harvard President Drew Faust asking the Harvard Corporation to emulate the example set by Georgetown University, and “demonstrate its remorse and its debt to those unnamed slaves from Antigua and Barbuda.”
He specifically proposed as a possible remedy that the school offer scholarships to Antiguans.
[…] Sanders believes Harvard owes an outstanding debt to Antiguans, and—now that Georgetown has provided a model—now is the time collect on it.
“If Georgetown could do that, we thought that Harvard University ought to emulate them and do the same thing,” Sanders said in an interview.
The University has not yet responded to Sanders’s letter, though according to spokesperson David J. Cameron the University is working on a response. Law School spokespeople declined to comment. …
[…] in an interview with The Crimson last month, before receiving Sanders’s letter, Faust drew distinctions between Georgetown’s past and Harvard’s.
“I am not aware of any slaves that were owned by Harvard itself, and slavery was much less of a presence and an economic force in New England than it was in Washington, D.C., and the South,” she said. “Mostly slave records were kept as economic records, business records, and the records we have of slaves at Harvard are much scarcer and less complete.”
For Sanders, the fact that Harvard profited in some way from the “blood money” of the Royall’s Antiguan slaves—regardless of whether Harvard directly owned the slaves—is a compelling enough reason for Harvard to extend benefits to Antiguans.
In an interview, Sanders argued that the Law School should grant scholarships to Antiguans “in general,” not just to descendants of Royall’s slaves. He also proposed Harvard fund the construction of Antigua’s first-ever university.
Since Harvard profited from Royall’s “blood money,” the ambassador argues, that “is a compelling enough reason for Harvard to extend benefits to Antiguans.”