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Ebony and Ivy: American Universities and Slavery

in the video below, Craig Steven Wilder, Professor of History at MIT (and head of the MIT History Department) discusses his 2014 book Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best nonfiction books of the year. The book won multiple awards.

Prof. Wilder received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. In 2004, Columbia awarded Wilder the University Medal for Excellence, one of the school's most distinguished awards. Wilder was an assistant professor and Chair of African-American Studies at Williams College from 1995 to 2002. He joined the faculty at Dartmouth College in 2002 where he remained until 2008 when he left to join the MIT faculty. He has also taught at Williams College and Long Island University, and has been a visiting professor at the New School University and University College London


Professor Wilder is a senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative where he has served as a visiting professor, commencement speaker, and academic advisor. For more than a decade, BPI has given hundreds of men and women the opportunity to earn college degrees during their incarcerations in the New York State prison system. He has advised and appeared in numerous historical documentaries.

Deeper Historical Context For Universities


The president of Columbia University says in the video below that "diversity" in education needs to be put in a deeper historical context. The book Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy by George G. M. James shows that ancient Egypt introduced the concept of universities to the world and was the center of learning for thousands of years.


When the Romans burned the legendary Library at  Alexandria where the Greeks had studied with Egyptian priests for 700 years, Europe sank into the Dark Ages for centuries until the Moors conquered Spain in 700AD and ruled until 1492. Europe was 97% illiterate when the Moors established 17 universities to which Europe flocked for learning. With the sciences and technologies the Moors introduced, Spain became a powerful nation. However, it used its maritime power to claim that it had "discovered" the Western hemisphere where millions of people had been been living in civilizations more advanced than those of Europe for thousands of years!


Along with Portugal, France, Britain, Holland, and Belgium, Spain committed genocide across the Americas, robbed Africa of 30% of it inhabitants and instituted the most brutal system of slavery ever devised. The first people the Spanish enslaved were the Moors who had brought them out of the Dark Ages and empowered them as a nation! The Spanish burned all the books of the Aztecs and Maya -- except four that escaped their bonfires!

Martin Bernal shows in Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Volume 1) that the Greeks acknowledged that they learned everything they knew from studying in Egypt. He explains that it was not until the 1800s in Germany that Europeans began to give credit to the Greeks as the origin of Western civilization. This was in reaction to the shame of enslaving the people who had brought civilization to Europe -- three times! Author Peter Gandy shows that the European Renaissance and Protestant Reformation were fueled by the discovery of The Hermetica, the ancient wisdom of the Egyptian god Thoth.

Video: Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities

In the shocking video below, Prof. Wilder shows how intimately linked American university education has been with slavery.
He explains that presidents of colleges and universities in Connecticut led one of the most extreme branches of the American Colonization Society (ACS) founded in 1817 to transplant African Americans from the continental United States. New England colonizationalists cast African Americans as a threat to democracy and social order, encouraged campaigns to the halt of the development of free Black communities, and even destroyed schools for African American children.

They linked with mid-Atlantic colonizationalists to bring 60-75% of the colleges in the North East within the colonizationalist cause. They silenced debate about slavery and vehemently attacked abolitionism as the cause of political tension between the slave and free states. Yale's president was the vice president of the national association of the ACS. Many politicians belonged to the ACS. The ACS engaged in violent opposition to the opening of the first Black college in New Haven, Conn.


Harvard's history is inseparable from the history of slavery and the slave trade. Harvard was a pillar of the ante-bellum racial order. Columbia University and New York City became extreme sites in the colonizationist cause. By the 1830, the American college, along with the church and state, had become the third pillar of American slavery.


The president of Columbia discusses the existence of slavery in New York City for 200 years and the city's participation in the slave trade. Slave auctions took place regularly at a  market on Wall Street. Slaves represented 20% of the population of NYC in the mid-18th century. In Brooklyn, 30% of the population were slaves in the last 18th century. Slavery was essential to the colonial economy. Slavery was abolished in NYC in 1827, but the city still depended economically on the South. Slave catchers roamed the streets as late as 1840.

Click the graphics to watch the video.


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