Skip to main content

tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  November 29, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PST

8:00 am
11/27/13 11/27/13 from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> department is a perfect example. we have to think up colleges as factors in the creation in the nation that we know. the reverend who lives in with a, he arrives
8:01 am
enslaved black people. he has more slaves than faculty. he has more slaves than trustees. accounting, honest a bubbly more slaves than students. >> today we speak with m.i.t. historian greg stephen wilder about "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's universities." and we look at traces of the trade, a story from the deep north. >> one know in my family realized were that the walls were the largest slave trading family in the nation. they brought over 10,000 africans to the americans in chains. half a million of their descendents could be alive today. with katrinaeak brown about how she traced her family's shocking history. all that and more coming up.
8:02 am
we turn to a new book 10 years in the making that looks at how some of the country's major universities, harvard, yale, then, rutgers, williams, university of north carolina, just to name a few, are drenched in the sweat and sometimes blood of the african slaves that were brought here. the book is called "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's universities. " in it, craig stephen wilder from m.i.t. reveals how the slave economy and higher education group together. the american campus today as a silent monument to slavery. this history is silent no more. professor wilder joins us here in new york. america's most elite universities. what relation do they have to
8:03 am
slavery? >> multiple relationships. the first and most provocative is the relationship to the slave trade itself. in the middle of the 18th century from 1746 until 1769, less than a quarter century, the number of colleges in british colonies triples from the three to nine. the original were harvard, yale, and william and mary. and then there were nine. it triples in that 25 year period. it is precisely at the time of the rise of the atlantic economy based on the african slave trade that allowed this fantastic articulation of new growth of the institutional infrastructure of the colleges. about particular universities.
8:04 am
you do look at some in the south but also in the deep north. harvard. >> it is a very northern story when you think about the colonial world. until the revolution, there is only one college, william and mary. a couple of other attempts but they fail. the other eight colleges are northern schools. they are located in key sites for the most part of the merchant economy, and where the slave traders had come to power and rose up as the financial and intellectual backers of the new culture of colonies. >> talk about harvard. >> from its very beginning, in 1636, college by 1630 eight, has an enslaved man living on campus who is referred to as the more. related to twoy gets toe how he
8:05 am
cambridge. one is after the peak world war, where the puritans to feed the indians of southern connecticut. pequot are sold into the west indies. returns with enslaved africans, and it is that moment that the moore appears on campus and becomes a legend on campus. the book, the end of you include a photograph that shows 59 that served as president of harvard. talk about their significance and their relation to slavery. >> what i wanted to show in that was the ways in which slavery, even after the end of slavery in the northeast, after the northern colonies and states move towards emancipation and finished their processes, they continue to have economic ties to the south and west
8:06 am
indies. one of the ways you can trace that is by looking at who became the president of these universities. the presidents were virtually always the sons or son in laws of merchant traders. people who are west india suppliers. after the slave trade ends in the northern states, one of the businesses that continues is applying the south and the west indies with all the provisions they needed to run the plantations. >> i want to look at this picture. you have quincy, everett, sparks , mather, and felton. explain. mather, harvard university, there is a house named after him. longe mathers go back a way. they are a part of the colonial story of slavery. the second generation is actually a president of harvard, and he uses his slave, a person
8:07 am
given to him, to run the business of the college in the colonial period. he runs errands between the various trustees and he writes in his diary that he sent his negro to do various bits of work for the college. if you think about edward everett, jarrett sparks, one of the ways they had been able to achieve influence that they did, sparks becomes rather famous for his writings about early american history. he becomes something of a polished american historian, but that was a way of also creating ties with the south. intellectual relationships with the south. his writings as an historian allows him to create intellectual connections to these very important regions, regions that remain important in the financing of higher education long after slavery ends in the northeast. >> what about yale university? >> yale is a similar story.
8:08 am
when the original founders were meeting to establish what was then the collegiate school, as one of their chroniclers put it, they come from the various towns to meet up, and they are followed by their slaves. the enslaved people are at the founding of the institution. once it is established, like most of the 18th century colleges, and especially by the 18th century, the slave trade peaks, the new business of higher education, the model for a successful college requires tapping into these new sources of wealth. that means the slave trade and the plantations of the south and west indies. >> did anyone at these universities say no to slaves? >> yes. at every moment there is a push towards slavery, there is also anti-slavery, and anti-slavery tradition emerging from the 17th
8:09 am
century through the 18th century. because it is an intellectual movement, a moral and religious campus., is housed on so you have this tension on campus and i try to point it out at various times in the book. one of the examples i used relates to the image you showed of the president. under quincy's administration, a german professor at harvard, who a rebel in germany, chased out for his radicalism, come to the united states and gets appointed professor of german at harvard and then is attracted to the abolitionist movement. he eventually is punished and loses his professorship. the funding have largely come from families that had ties to the slave trade. >> that is interesting.
8:10 am
a lot of the endowments for the professor chairs come from the slave trade. >> the very first endowed professorship at yale, the livingston professor of divinity, comes from new york and new jersey, the second ,eneration philip livingston giving it recognition of the fine education that his sons had received an yale. livingston's are one of the largest slave trading families out of new york city. the philadelphians and new yorkers were trying to catch up. >> we will be talking about the largest slave trading family in a moment. we will be joined by one of the dewalt's. i want to ask you about princeton university. >> princeton is to me one of the more interesting schools.
8:11 am
they are all distinct in some ways. innded in 1746, founded religiously or radical tradition princeton finds itself struggling in the early years. in 1768 it had a sequence of , includingdencies two deaths of presidents. they recruit the scottish minister, one of the princeton alumni. he is studying medicine at edinburgh. he is acting on behalf of his college to recruit witherspoon. he comes to the decision to cross the atlantic and go to new jersey. one of the things i argue in the book is what make the successful minister from scotland attracted to a relatively unsuccessful college in a colony that is not a powerhouse in north america?
8:12 am
the answer is the extraordinary scottish network in the americas, the way that the witherspoon family had reached out across the americas and provided witherspoon a way of securing and stabilizing the college of new jersey by exploiting these family and national connections, the scottish diaspora. scott'sded particularly moving into the carolinas and virginia's and into the backcountry of virginia, and the caribbean. ist he ends up doing pointing and looking sound for new sources of student and money. shortly after he arrives, he publishes a submissive to the west indies where he promises the planters that their sons would be better off in princeton, new jersey, which is intimate and close enough where the faculty take care of the boys, rather than sending them to england, where young men from
8:13 am
the west indies are known to be wealthy and get preyed upon by people of loose morals and broad ambitions. so sending them to princeton would be better for them, but it would also be better for princeton. he is not the only one to do this. if you look at those colleges founded in the middle 18th century, they all send ambassadors to the west indies in search of money and students. >> tell us about betsey stockton, who was enslaved by an early president of princeton. to thekton was given wife of the president as a gift when she was a young woman. through marriage, comes into the of asheville green, who ends up being the president of instant. he eventually emancipate her. he establishes -- this is the tension between slavery and anti-slavery -- establishes a
8:14 am
ministry with many people in the black community surrounding princeton. he emancipate her, lives in the presidents house and works there and becomes quite famous as a biblical scholar. she becomes good" geography. >> spending most of her time in the library. biblicaleographic skills. she then becomes a schoolteacher in new york and then heads off to a mission to the sandwich islands, hawaii, where her skills of language and religion become critical to the success of the mission. so you have the person who is born enslaved, lives as an enslaved person on a college campus and then leaves and shorten their life after. >> you also talk about race science, the search for cadavers for scientific research at these universities. >> one of the things i wanted to do with the book was to try and
8:15 am
explain both how slavery and the slave trade provided the foundations for the rise of higher education. i also wanted to explain the role that colleges played in perpetuating slavery and the slave trade, and that is where you get to race science. it is precisely on campus that the ideas that come to defend slavery in the 19th century get refined. they get their intellectual legitimacy on campus. veneert their scientific on campus. and they get their moral credentialing on campus. so i wanted to trace the process. one of the ugliest aspects of that is the use of marginalized people in the americas, the united states, enslaved black people, often native americans, and sometimes the irish, for experimentation.
8:16 am
they turn dissection and anatomy into the medical arts, but that requires people. in the british isles, that means you are exploiting ireland. in north america, you are taking advantage of people who have no legal or moral protection upon their bodies, the enslaved. >> can you give an example? beat dartmouth, -- it would unfair to say the medical college begins with this moment, but the teaching of science in hanover begins when the dragcian to the president, the body of an enslaved disease black man named kato to the back of his house, and boils the body in an enormous pot to free up the skeleton, to wire it up for instruction.
8:17 am
the first medical colleges are established in north america in the 1760s, the first is the college of philadelphia which is now the university of pennsylvania. kings college, now columbia. when those institutions are founded, part of what allows them to be established is access to corpses, people to experiment upon, and it is precisely the enslaved, the unfree, and the marginalized, who are forcibly volunteered for that role. >> craig steven wilder is the author of "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's universities." you can go to our website to read the books prologue at professor welder teaches history at m.i.t. he also taught at williams college and dartmouth. stay with us. [♪]
8:18 am
8:19 am
8:20 am
>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. return to part two of our discussion with craig steven wilder, author of a new book, "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's universities." .alk about where you began you are a professor of american now.ry at m.i.t. right you taught at williams, dartmouth. talk about dartmouth. of the more was one interesting cases. i started the book when i arrived at dartmouth in 2002. it was supposed to be a tiny article on how black abolitionists became a professional. how do you become a minister or a doctor in a nation we you can go to college? there was a big push into these professions but they are excluded from colleges and universities. one of the things that intrigues
8:21 am
me, being at dartmouth at the time, was the fact that native americans had been on campus for 200 years, native american students. that suggests that native americans were somehow privileged, which we know is wrong. so it really requires a rethinking of the college itself, the role of the college in the colonial world. in many ways, dartmouth was the perfect example of what i ended up arguing in the book, that we have to think of colleges as actors in the colonial world and the creation of the nation that we know. the reverend who arrives in hanover after he gets his with eight1769 enslaved black people, including a baby. he has more slaves than faculty. he has more slaves than active trustees. if you do an honest accounting,
8:22 am
he probably has more slaves than students. spentt time, although he most of his time as a missionary to native americans, and the college's supporters believe that he is continuing the native fact,an ministry, in native american students had been relegated to what was in effect a grammar school. he was in the process of building a college for white students. like a lot of colleges that took money for native american evangelization, a lot of that money goes to support white students and transform them into missionaries. >> i do not think people understand that these universities would come out to raise money and they would raise it by saying we are educating native americans. >> particularly before the american revolution, the colleges launch endless appeals and campaigns to europe and particularly to britain in
8:23 am
search of dollars. at one point in the book, i point out they are literally bumping into each other in london soliciting for donors, often under the claim that they were educating native americans. kings college, which is now columbia, has a great exchange about this. they propose educating some indian children from the iroquois nation, sends out a letter about this, and then quickly withdraws the idea because it is just too hard to do. he is not really interested in educating indian children, but he is interested in making the appeal. often, these colleges are sending ambassadors to europe in particular under the claim that they will be individualizing indians. that happens in the early 17th century with the first of the british colleges, harvard. >> what happened at harvard? >> they are sending off appeals
8:24 am
to england, championing the evangelization of native americans. england ebonyew is established, a missionary corporation, which becomes a model for later corporations. throughout the 17th century, one of the continuing themes of harvard -- the charter is changed to include native american education as part of their mission. the first building on harvard yard is the indian college. >> the first building -- >> the first brick building is the indian college. you can raise money hand over fist in europe for indian theselization, and stories of radical christians transforming native people into
8:25 am
religious perfectionists, models arehristian virtue, actually just being eaten up in europe. >> why in europe? >> there is a real use of native americans, then they in which native americans have captured the european mind. exotic people of a different color and kind who both perplex and intrigue. so you get a lot of conversations about the origins of native people, where they come from. there is a tremendous attempt to reconcile their existence in the americas with biblical narrative , and then to mission eyes them. >> these people who are residents from these universities from dartmouth to harvard are ministers. and they have slaves. >> they often have slaves and
8:26 am
they are often indian missionaries. the first president of dartmouth had spent much of his life as an indian missionary, but he is also running a side business buying and selling people for labor, so that enslaved black people were part of his life's work. >> how did you feel about this, craig steven wilder, being an dartmouth yourself, teaching, doing this research? this slow, uncomfortable realization that you are part of this world with a very broad, deep, painful history, is to say the least, awkward. it also became an intellectual challenge for me. do do i tell that story, how i get that story to an audience and get them to understand its meaning, what it means for us today and what it meant then?
8:27 am
in some ways, as a historian it is probably easier to do with that realization, because we have the tools to wrestle with it. >> did they ever try to stop you from telling the story? >> know they did not. i have to give everyone credit. one of the great things that happened, early in my career, i gave a talk about part of the book -- what is now a small part of the book -- and the president at the time was sitting in the front row and he gave me a great handshake and a hug afterwards. often tell the story of going into archives to do the research for this book in the carolinas and virginia, to eastern canada, and scotland. whenever started, i was cautious about what i would say. when they ask you on those forms, what are you studying? as the archivist and librarians,
8:28 am
as i got to know them and found that what i am doing, one of the wonderful things that happened was, not only were they supportive of the project, but they often introduced me to and brought me materials that i would have never known were in the archives. sometimes they slipped it to me across the table. but they were all the supportive. >> what were some of your great discoveries there? >> the president who owned slaves, what happened to those enslaved people in their lives, at william and mary, one of the early founders ends up killing a child. >> explained that story. who was it? >> reverend gray. he orders a child to be beaten, and the child is beaten so severely he later dies. his parish pays him in tobacco to leave. quiteas one of the
8:29 am
difficult moments in writing the book. there is a way to tell that story, but it is a difficult story to tell. there is something to be known about the nature of the forming of colleges and the world in there. >> what do you mean, there is a way to tell the story? >> part of my job as an historian is to make that story available to people, to explain it, and let them understand how that moment comes into being. where childrenny play a role in the book. one of the patterns i noticed doing the research was the number of children owned by college presidents. it required some sort of explanation when you really think about how many had made specific requests for children. ezra stiles, the president of yield during the american revolution.
8:30 am
earlier as a newport minister, purchases a boy named newport in , and thenhode island he emancipate's newport on the day before he becomes president of yale. jonathan edwards purchases a girl, i believe he names her venus, in rhode island. he becomes the president of princeton. he is an early indian missionary in connecticut, a fantastic career in connecticut as an evangelical, probably most famous for the founding evangelical sermon. .dwards purchases a girl ownsrtmouth, wheelock children. matter gets a boy when he is president at harvard.
8:31 am
i wanted to explain this phenomenon, so one thing i looked at was trying to examine the history around the decision- making process. in the book, i point out it has a lot to do with the rise in fear of slave revolts and the belief that children would be more easily socialized into slavery and less likely to revolt, so you have these extraordinarily descriptive request for slaves. those living in the west indies in massachusetts writing back to exactoverseers with very ascriptions of the age, gender, and type a personality they want . one writes, i lost my boy, meaning he died, and i want to replace them with another. therefore, you also end up with a slave trade across the atlantic which deals in human
8:32 am
beings, but about 20% of which are children. i explore one of those voyages in the book in which dozens of children, some as young as two and three years old, are held captive on board and died over the journey. that was a living sting -- livingston investment, who go on to become founders of the professor endowment at yale, trustees at princeton and rutgers. not talked much about rutgers. tell us about rutgers. >> it is a fascinating institution for a lot of reasons. the original queens college which is a dutch reformed areege, the dutch colonists establishing their own constitution. as we all know, it is quite close to the college of new jersey. winston is originally founded in
8:33 am
the eastern part of the state near newark and then the governor helps to settle in princeton, new jersey. in fact, one of the things that happened, there was a lot of pressure from the college of new jersey for queens college, rutgers, twofold in. the denominational allegiances are too strong for that, so the presbyterians remain in new jersey, princeton, the dutch reformed at rutgers. one of the early presidents, reverend hardin burke at queens college, manages to purchase slaves, despite the fact that the college is doing poorly. queens is so financially strapped it closes multiple times in its early history. on the eve of one of its first closures, one has to shut down and stop operations. the reverend manages to buy a second slave for his household.
8:34 am
what does that tell us about colleges in the 18th century? one of the things that it should remind us is that colleges survived on the margins in the 18th century. they were constantly seeking sources of funding. the most obvious and immediate source of funding was the rising wealthy traders of the big port cities, dominated by the slave traders. and then the planters of the south and west indies who had cash and children, but very few schools, as one historian put it nicely, the british west indies did not need colleges because of mainland north america. there are very few institutions of higher education or even secondary education established in the west indies during the colonial period, because they could send their sons to europe or north america. >> how does the civil war play
8:35 am
into this? >> you have all these north -- you have all these northerners that owned slaves and they run into the tuition that justifies slavery. it challenges the notion of the civil war, the north against the south, fighting for the evils of slavery. >> one of the things northerners , northern intellectuals contribute before the war, is an attempt to establish a common ground between the north and south. an intellectual solution to the crisis over slavery, as that crisis boils up. to claim aly managed new public position in this role. i argue in the book than what allows the college to become a university to become what we know today, an independent influential actor in public affairs, rather than an offshoot of churches come a which is what they are in the colonial period,
8:36 am
what allows them to establish is their ability to articulate a new vision of the united states, but it is premised on racial science, premised upon a claim that academics, intellectuals, can make a better and more informed, truer argument about the future of the nation and the question of slavery. science to make that claim. in the final chapter of the book, i look at the overruns and --ient of academics and overrepresentation of academics and call it professors in racial cleansing movements. in 1822, the liberia colony is established. >> the country in africa.
8:37 am
>> where free black people are to be transported to. they are also overrepresented in the debates about indian removal in the south. overrepresented, as i point out in the boat, the process of establishing missions to convert jews living in the united states or fund their removal from the united states. when you put it together you have this extraordinary vision of the united dates as a white, christian society, racially cleansed and purified, but what that actually means is that race becomes the common ground between north and south. northern academics begin to articulate a vision for the future of the united states as a racially purified society where slavery could continue to exist as long as it was contained and as long as it served the interests of the white south.
8:38 am
but the role and future of the nation would be a white, christian society. thene image you have in book is from 1826, a flyer, washington college, now washington and lee, advertising negroes for higher. 20 likely negroes belonging to washington college insisting on men, women, and boys, many of them valuable, will be hired out for the year. explain the significance of this ad. >> this is one institution that owned slaves and used their labor to run the campus, to take care of the faculty and students . as the seasonal demand changed, further profited by leasing them out. we can think about this in a number of ways. washington and lee, william and mary, in a single year,
8:39 am
purchased 17 people for the campus. carolinarsity of north . in the north, you have something similar. the founder of government shows up with eight enslaved people -- dartmouth shows up with a enslaved people. for a lot of people doing this kind of work, studying the relationships between colleges and universities, you are often looking for the smoking gun. often what they are looking for is whether the institution owned slaves. do., lots of them but when their presidents do, they effectively do. when the professors owned slaves, the institution effectively owns slaves. and the students bring slaves to campus. the stepson of george washington -- he mixes the idea of sending
8:40 am
him to william and mary. >> washington himself did not go to college. >> he did not want to send him to william and mary because he has bad habits and he thinks it will get worse among the sons of the elite planters. so he goes up to new york and enrolls him in kings college, now colombia, and they are glad to have him, because this creates another entrance for the wealthy planters in the south and a way of making new ties with new students and potential donors. ,hat is fascinating is washington shows up with his stepson and his stepson's slave joe. he also comes to campus and the president of colombia at the time outfits jackie with a suite that jackie has painted and ready for himself. joe was occupied with one of the larger closets in the room.
8:41 am
that was not unusual. in william in mary, 10% of the students brought slaves with them to campus. there are other examples that people are looking at right now of this phenomenon north and south. >> in all of your research, what were you most shocked by? wherere are these moments you wrestle with difficult questions. certainly, when i was doing the the on the slave ships, dewolf's, which the livingston's send out -- >> tied to yale. >> and columbia and princeton. ,he ship is called the wolf sent to the african coast on a mission that takes basically a year and a half.
8:42 am
the captain has a hard time purchasing enough captives to , so he is complement holding people below deck four nths as hehe -- for mo hops along the african coast attempting to get people. a lot of those on board our small children. this is a voyage in which the surgeon actually -- the ship's surgeon goes through a series of emotional crises himself which he recorded in his diary. babies are dying. he is doing autopsies trying to figure out why they are dying. he is finding that they are worms and other things. and horrific tale.
8:43 am
>> didn't people rise up on the ship? departs,efore the ship more people actually die on the return journey across the atlantic. when they arrived back in new york and the livingston's put them up for sale, they probably ended up killing as many as they sold. >> about 200 on board. the population drops significantly. but the number of people killed along the african coast is just astounding and disturbing. as i read tell that story, i want to remember, for me, that is probably the hardest and most shocking thing, but shocking for all of us. i am not making a proprietary outrageon the emotional to that kind of historical event
8:44 am
. the thing that probably shocked me the most is you have those historian,re, as a you have to find a way to tell a gruesome story, the code that story is necessary to understanding this moment in time. even more shocking was how many of those stories there are. you can find a version of that story for every college that is established in the colonial world. twoare playing basically degrees of separation from some horrific slave voyage. , stayig steven wilder with us. we will be tracing one family's roots to the largest slave holding family in america, and i would like you to comment about how it connects to the nation's universities. craig steven wilder, author of "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's universities."
8:45 am
8:46 am
[♪] is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue our conversation on slavery. we are joined by a woman who uncovered her ancestors were the largest slave trading family in u.s. history. katrina brown is with us. she documented her boots in the film "traces of the trade." grandmother traced back. i was in seminary when i got a booklet in the mail that you vote for all of her grandchildren. she shared our family history, all the happy days. she also explained that the anthony, camemarc to bristol as a sailor in 1944, and then she wrote, i haven't stomach enough to describe the
8:47 am
ensuing slave trade. what hit me hard was the realization that i already knew knew but somehow buried it along the way. what no one realized in my family was that the dewolf's were the largest slave trading family in u.s. history. they brought over 10,000 africans to the americas in chains. half a million of their descendents could be alive today. >> a clip from "traces of the trade." aired on pbs in 2008, she went on to found the tracing center on histories and legacies of slavery to inspire dialogue and active response to this history and its many
8:48 am
legacies. katrina brown is now with us from washington, d.c. still with us is professor craig steven wilder, author of "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's universities." katrina, take us from there. you discover -- although you say you knew some kind of primal secret, what your family, how significant the dewolf's were in slave trading. >> in our family's case it is kind of a stand-in for the region as a whole. i heard things as a child but did not allow it to sink in. physically cognitive dissonance for any white northerners to think we have any relationship to slavery. all of us were raised and educated in our schools to believe the south were the bad guys and the northerners were the heroes. it was hard to comprehend and shocking to discover as i dug more into it.
8:49 am
because of this larger untold story of the role of the north, i decided to produce a documentary and what we did was, i invited relatives to join me on a journey to retrace the triangle trade of our ancestors, and nine brave cousins came with me and we went to rhode island and then donna and cuba, where slaves, evenowned after slavery was abolished in the north, slave trade abolished in the north, folks like the dewolf's were still involved through plantations in the caribbean and elsewhere, as well as providing for the american south. clip.ant to go to another you just visited the dark rooms where africans were kept until they were sold and loaded onto ships. this is your relative, tom
8:50 am
dewolf, describing his reaction. >> what strikes me more than anything right now is that we have talked, when we were in bristol and providence, listening to historians and scholars, we have heard people talk about, you have to place it in the context of the times, and this is the way that things were done, this is how life was. sayt in that dungeon and i -- it was an evil thing and they knew it was and they did it anyway. i could not have said that tonight. >> let's go to another clip here you and your relatives visit bristol rhode island where the their family operated slave trade. you visit with local historians.
8:51 am
the more historians we spoke to, the more sobering it got. >> slave trading is not just a few people taking a boat. everyone in town lives off of slavery. the bookmakers, the iron makers, those that made the barrels to hold the rum, the distillers who took the molasses and sugar and made it into rom. literally the whole town was dependent on the slave trade. >> all the cities and towns in the north along the coast, sailing, boston, new haven, new york, the rural areas around them, either traded slaves or manufactured goods or raised farm products for the slave trade. >> that was and historian from "traces of the trade: a story from the deep north." some of your family members went with you, others shunned you.
8:52 am
as you point out, this is not just any family involved with slavery, although that is unbelievable to say in itself. your family was the largest slave trading family in the united states in the north -- and it is in the north. >> it would not shock your listeners to hear that there was a great deal of anxiety and dense -- discomfort about publicizing our family's history . i think one of the things i have come to appreciate is the depth of the emotions that get in the way for white americans more broadly, not just our family. itare an extreme case, but is an example of a larger pattern, which is defensiveness, fear, guilt, shame, those emotions get in our way both from confronting the history and coming to appreciate the vast the tentacles of the
8:53 am
institution of slavery and how fundamental it was to the birth and success of our nation, paving the way for waves of immigrants that came subsequently. discomfort looking at that history, but also discomfort around grappling with the implications for today and coming to grips with that. i hear so many black americans say we are not trying to guilt trip you, quit taking it so personally, we just want you white folks to show up for work together with us of repairing those harms that continue to plague this country. i have noticed how i have gone from extreme knee-jerk guilt reaction upon learning about this in my family and region, to a more grounded and mature and stock pvrlity to take extreme case, again, but it
8:54 am
provides a view into what i think all white americans need to look at in terms of white privilege and whatnot. >> katrina, what is the dewolf's family relation to brown? it is your last name but brown university is in rhode island. i know that one of the dewolf's wrote the alma mater of brown. >> i am brown with an e. james dewolf, one of the more prominent slave traders, apprenticed with john brown, a slave trader. they ended up in congress and worked together to help preserve the slave trade, to help protect the rhode island slave trade, in cahoots even
8:55 am
with president thomas jefferson. that is a longer story. in any case, the economy of rhode island was deep in the slave trade. it shocks people to hear that leadingland was the slave trading state in the country, not south carolina or virginia. that leads to the founding of the university and some of the early funds for brown university. >> it is interesting that ruth simmons, the former president of brown, great granddaughter of slaves, first african-american president of any ivy league university, -- and i want to bring craig steven wilder back into the conversation -- commissioned the first ivy league study of her university's connection to slavery. professor wilder. >> this is a critical moment in american history. throughout the process of talking about the book, one of
8:56 am
the things that we can't send a return to is her decision in 2003 to commission a study of brown's malaysia to the slave trade. this happened for a number of reasons. yale ons a blowup at its 300th anniversary about their relationship to the slave trade, which became controversial. that also helped to spark rumors about other institutions and the public secret of brown's relationship became even more lively when she became president, when the first nonwhite president of an ivy league institution took office. it took tremendous courage to make that about their relationship to the slave trade, which became controversial. that also helped to spark rumors about other institutions decisi. in 2006, is an extraordinary example of moral leadership, of how we get this conversation happening. as ms. brown said about the documentary, one of the things that is fascinating about both president simmons' description
8:57 am
and the reaction to the, is that much of the hostility and fear that people had anticipated, the problems they had anticipated when the commission refers -- was first announced, does not actually materialize. if you look at the way that we have engaged within subject of slavery in the past, the brown report, documentaries like "traces of the trade: a story from the deep north," the new york historical society's exhibit in new york, the anniversary of the end of the slave trade in egeland, one of the things i found fascinating was that it provides evidence that the public is ready for a difficult conversation that, in many ways, we underestimate the capacity of people to deal with, and their desire to deal with problems.
8:58 am
in the documentary, her cousin said -- reacting to the slave trade and this material culture of the slave trade surrounding him. one of the things i like to remind people of is the things that white americans find difficult and horrific, that generate feelings of guilt and troubling and horrific and difficult for black americans. it in that fact, there is the real, genuine,a and useful conversation about slavery in american society. i think we are moving towards that. we are moving there slowly, but we're getting there. i think the public is ahead of the rest of us. the media tends to be more conservative and afraid of these discussions than the public. if you look at the tremendous crowds that showed up for those exhibits, you see evidence for that. i want to thank you both for being with us. craig steven wilder. his new book is "ebony and ivy: race, slavery, and the troubled history of america's
8:59 am
universities." he is professor of american history at m.i.t. i also want to thank katrina and producerrian of "traces of
9:00 am
>> hello. welcome to the health show. you the mosting important health stories from around the world an. >> with their


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on