Rutgers is taking new steps to acknowledge its connection to slavery and racial injustice with the creation of four additional historical markers that tell the story of its early benefactors whose families made their fortunes through the slave economy.
The markers shed new light on some of the most prominent names memorialized on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus, including the university’s first president, Jacob Rusten Hardenbergh, and New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston.
“These markers are an invitation for us to talk about the complicated legacies of namesakes and the complicated ways in which blood money from slavery is woven into old institutions like Rutgers,” Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said at the Board of Governors meeting today. “They are a result of the excellent research shared in the Scarlet and Black volumes that acknowledge our own legacy.”
Holloway, Rutgers’ first African American president in its 254-year history and a leading Black history scholar, recently published The Cause of Freedom, an examination of Black history starting with the arrival of the first slave ship on the shores of Jamestown in 1619 through the Black Lives Matter movement of today.
The legacy of racial injustice is long and must be addressed by colleges and universities throughout the country including Rutgers, among the oldest land-grant universities in the United States, Holloway said.
The new historical markers – recommended by the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History as part of the 2015 Scarlet and Black Project – will contribute to discussions confronting the past while recognizing steps to take to move forward, Holloway said.