University of Glasgow publishes report into historic slavery

The University of Glasgow has published a comprehensive report into the institution’s historical links with racial slavery.

The study acknowledges that whilst it played a leading role in the abolitionist movement, the University also received significant financial support from people whose wealth at least in part derived from slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow report, is co-authored by Professor Simon Newman and Dr Stephen Mullen. Both are from the University of Glasgow.

The report follows a year-long investigation into bequests, support and other ways the University might have benefited from slavery-related wealth.

It estimates the present-day value of all monies given to the University which might have been fully or partly derived from slavery to be in the order of tens of millions of pounds, depending on the indexation formula.

The University has now agreed a proactive programme of reparative justice which includes the creation of a centre for the study of slavery and a memorial or tribute at the University in the name of the enslaved.

The University is also working with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and hopes to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen academic collaboration between the two institutions.

The Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, said: “The University of Glasgow has a proud record of anti-slavery activity including petitioning Parliament to abolish slavery and awarding an honorary degree to the emancipationist, William Wilberforce. Glasgow also educated James McCune Smith, a formerly enslaved New Yorker who became the first ever African American to receive a medical degree.

“Deeply regret this association with slavery”

“This report has been an important undertaking and commitment to find out if the University benefitted from slavery in the past. Although the University never owned enslaved people or traded in the goods they produced, it is now clear we received significant financial support from people whose wealth came from slavery.

“The University deeply regrets this association with historical slavery which clashes with our proud history of support for the abolition of both the slave trade and slavery itself.

“Looking to the future, the University has set out a programme of reparative justice through which we will seek to acknowledge this aspect of the University’s past, enhance awareness and understanding of historical slavery, and forge positive partnerships with new partners including the University of the West Indies.”

TNT Education

Photo Credit: University of Glasgow

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