Ta-Nehisi Coates: Harvard should pay reparations for slavery ties

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During a “Universities and Slavery: Bound By History” conference at Harvard, Ta-Nehisi Coates told a group of students and faculty that the Ivy League school should pay reparations for its ties to slavery.

The event lasted all day, with Drew G. Faust noting in his opening remarks, “Harvard was directly complicit in slavery from the college’s earliest days in the 17th century. This history and its legacy have shaped our institution in ways we have yet to fully understand.”

Coates, the keynote speaker, then spoke about the need for reparations, to applause from the audience.

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“I think every single one of these universities needs to make reparations,” Coates said. “I don’t know how you conduct research that shows that your very existence is rooted in a great crime, and just say well, shrug — and maybe at best say ‘I’m sorry’ — and you walk away.”

He went on to insist that universities could not walk away from the discussion, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.

“I think you need to use the language of reparation,” he said. “I think it’s very, very important to actually say that word, to acknowledge that something was done in these institutions.”