MIT & the Legacy of Slavery - Community Dialogue
Hello. Good. Afternoon everyone. My. Name is Gabi. Ballard, and I am a third-year undergraduate, students, study in computer science and anthropology I'm, also one of the co-chairs, of the black Students Union where. I serve. As the head of the political, action committee. I'd. Like to be the first to welcome you to our event MIT, and the legacy of slavery reviewing, the early findings, today. We have two amazing sets of panelists, to illuminate, for us the history of this, institutions. A relationship. With slavery, after. The panels we'll have time for a brief Q&A, realize. That this, may be a lot to process so we encourage you to ask many, questions, can. Submit questions via twitter at this hashtag hashtag. MIT and slavery if you include that in your tweet then will be able to see. Them you. Can also, we'll. Also have time for people. To ask questions in real life I. Hope. You all bring, open minds and willingness, to act responsibly in, light of the information you, learn here without, further ado I'd like to release the stage to, release. The podium to our president president. Gabby. Let me just say something to, honor our, Dean, Melissa Nobles good. Afternoon. So. She wanted. You. Got before your. Introduction, and also. For, your leadership of the BSU, I also. Am grateful, and, really grateful that the BSU, and the, B GSA. Collaborated. So closely with, vice, president Colin. Brander and my. Office to bring this, event together today. To. Our audience, allowed. You to see so many of you thank. You so much for, joining us today, as we begin this very. Important, exploration. Neos. Extend, a warm. Welcome to everyone, taking. Part remotely, via livestream. We're here to launch an effort, that were, calling, MIT. And the legacy of slavery. As. We begin this work I want. To thank all of the, members of our community who. Have brought us this, far and, who. Will continue, to help us with our guidance. At. The top of that list a professor. Craig Wilder. Archivist. Norah. Murphy. Teaching. Assistant Clara came and. Everyone. Involved in the MIT and, slavery, course, especially. The, students. I'm. Extremely grateful for, and. Extremely. Proud of, the. Work you're, all doing for our community. On. Behalf, of the entire MIT, community I also.
Want To express our deep, gratitude to. Chasten Melissa nobles who. Already has, a big, and hard, job, but. Who nevertheless agreed. To. Lead the. Effort for. The next phase of our community conversation. For. That I thank you. And. I believe this is also a perfect. Moment to thank. The many students, faculty. And staff who. Have over, decades. Work. To make MIT, more equitable, and more. Inclusive. In. Particular, I want to thank all those, whose, efforts, helped inspire, the. MIT and slavery class, I see. Many of you here. Today and. I, thank you. To. Frame our discussion let me offer just a little context. Last. Spring I asked professor Wilder, to. Recommend, the best way for. MIT to explore, its historical. Links to the institution, of slavery. In. Response. Correct provided, us with a, remarkable. Tool for uncovering, the, facts an ongoing. Undergraduate. Primary, research, course. With. This new tool MIT. Students. Will. Help create a, more complete. History, of MIT a, version. That examines, the more painful human. Realities. Along. With the technical, and scientific, achievements. I'm. Thrilled, that, the participants. In last fall's course will share the highlights of their. Findings today. And. I believe the work of this class about. Our past is. Also important, to the present, in the. Future. Something. I've always loved and admired about, the MIT community is, that. We seek. With. Faith but. If. In, this case we. Have the courage to look, at even the most unflattering, and, disturbing. Part of our history, I believe. We have a much better, chance of. Approaching. The present, and the. Future with. Humility. Self-awareness. -. For. Example. 150. Years from now. How. Will the MIT community then. Look. At how we are conducting, ourselves. Today. What. Will shock or. Disappoint, them and. What. Can history teach us as, we. Work to invent the future in. The. Words of one of the students, mahir Lango. Technology. Is never, neutral. So. How can we make sure the. Technologies, we invent today, will. Indeed contribute. Tomorrow, to. Making a better world for all. It's. Clear that we have a great deal to learn and, reflect on, together. So. Let's get started. Correct. Melissa Nora would you please join me in the stage. Lisa. Let me is the mahkum you'll hear me maybe. So let me start with you okay. Briefly. Said something about history a moment ago but and. You give us some more historical. Context. Of the. Course and what. We're going through today, sure good.
Afternoon Everyone. I'd. Like to provide actually. Briefly two historical, context, the first, is, about, the recent developments at other colleges, and universities around. The country that, have - in their examination. Of their relationship, to slavery and then, the, second is the, larger, historical context. Of the u.s. at the time of MIT founding, in 1861. So. The first so. Over the past 20, years or so many. U.s. colleges and universities, have undertaken studies, to. Delve into their historical, relationships, to slavery, Brown. University, was the first to launch such an investigation, back. In 2001. Under then President Ruth, Simmons, then. After that effort there was a lull in activity in. The. Meantime Craig's, book, evany, and Ivy ray slavery, and the troubled history of American universities was published in 2013, and, in. A really important, way Craig's book, was revolutionary. It changed, the conversation in fact we. Reinvigorated. A conversation. In his. Book and very important, ways contextualized. Browns. Efforts, by, showing that our country's oldest institutions, of higher education had. Been entangled, with slavery in other, words Brown was not alone, slave. Labor was used to build campuses, the. Money generated by the slave trade and by slave ownership was, used to finance those, institutions. And a, number of faculty members at, colleges. And universities around, the country, used. Their positions to help develop the intellectual arguments, needed to justify slavery. The. MIT and slavery website, class website provides, a list of colleges, universities that, today or, have, undertaken these historical, study and I encourage you to take a look at the website you will notice that many of the universities, and colleges are not in the South in fact. They are here in the Northeast and they, include some of our country's most the, oldest and most prestigious universities. So. This observation leads. To my second contextual, point which, is the larger historical context.
So. At the start of the civil war in 1861. Our. Country's economy politics. And social, order were fundamentally. Shaped by the institution, of slavery we. Were in the, words of one historian a slave, nation and here. Are just a few facts that help illustrate, the, truth of that, description, so. As we know before the Civil War the country was divided of the 34 states then, in the Union 19, were free and 15, was slave holding, cotton. Grown in the slaveholding, south southern. States was. The country's leading export, it, helped, to fuel the manufacturing, revolution here. In new england principally, in Lowell Massachusetts and, in Europe it paid. For all manner of American, imports including. Steel it was, a major source of capital. Slaves. Represented. Represented. More capital, than any other asset other than, except. For land so, it was basically slaves, and land and. The American government was dominated, by pro-slavery. Interests so. Abolitionists. Here in new in here in Boston principally would rail against, the, slave power and what, they meant was the evident power that. Pro-slavery. Interests and princes. Wielded, in the, national government, part. Of that power, was derived from the Constitution, itself but the three-fifths, clause which meant that for the purposes of political representation, slaves. Counted as three-fifths persons. But. It went before below, beyond. The Congress it also included the chief executive the presidents so, of the 16. Presidents from Washington, to Lincoln 10. Own slaves and several. Of them including presidents, Washington, Jefferson, madison. Monroe and, jackson owned slaves while they served as president so I, provide that context, as a way of, offering. A framework for our better understanding the. Findings of the class and with I'll turn it over to Craig. So. Indeed with that. Historical. Context. How. Did you how. Did the course work I mean how did you put it together how did it happen in and. From. The. Facts. You have unearthed. So far what. Do you think is the most relevant to us what's what should be important to this community I, think, there's. A how. The course comes about there's, an honest answer and a dishonest answer and so I'll give the dishonest, one first you hey. You, turn to us and asked us what we should do and I thought you know the way, for us to move forward was, an undergraduate research, course on taking advantage of the thing that we do best and particularly, the, thing that we do best in Shas which, is teaching and using, these moments to actually challenge, our students to produce the kinds of knowledge that we know they're capable of and. So we, learned from in fact what was happening, at a lot of other universities, I've been visiting a lot of them we. Took we stole the best of their ideas and then we did things that were peculiarly, MIT, we. Have an extraordinarily. Well-trained. Excellent. And accessible, libraries. And archives, professional. Staff and so one of the things I've wanted to do was to start there to really actually Wed, the class to the archives, and create. This as a kind of doing point project moving forward I didn't. Tell the libraries that I, I. Sort of came to them with this design and they were extraordinarily. Gracious. In actually, partnering, with us and so that's where that part of the class comes from but the more, honest answer, was I sat. Down with a piece of paper and I started thinking about what we do best and how we should do it which is exactly what I just described, and then, I turn to the history department, staff because, nothing, happens here without. Our administrators. Actually, making it happen our staff making it happen and so the, history department staff maple chin and Megan. Pippin who you, know got us our course approval got us our course number, actually got us into the catalog did all the advertising, for us we. Went live the week that students were registering for class. And so you know we didn't have a class until that moment and they made that happen so really. One of the things we wanted to do with the class was to sort of take us from there and then, sort of what was the educational.
Goals Of the class there, were things that we already knew about, mi t--'s relationship, to slavery and just to describe it very quickly one, of the things that we knew was that there was an engineering, revolution, in the United States in the, four decades before the civil war somewhere. Between about eighteen nineteen, in the, 1860s, there's, an extraordinary. Growth. Of. Engineering. Schools, in the Northeast and that's, in fact driven, by the, slave economy. What's, happening, in the northeast is that the products, of slavery, slave, grown cotton from the South coming. Into the commodities, markets, of New York the first great commodity, actually, in the commodities, exchange, is cotton and, then being, funneled into or, transported. Into New England where, it's turned into textiles. And cotton. Manufacturers. Need engineers, they need engineers to build factories to, maintain and build machines, they. Need design they're, seeking out competitive. Advantages, in the marketplace, and so they begin pouring money into engineering, in the mid-atlantic. It's sugar grown by enslaved people in the Caribbean that's. Actually pouring into places like Brooklyn which will create Brooklyn, as one as the, region. Of the United States that comes to dominate the entire sugar, economy, of the world in, the nineteenth century the. First monopoly. When. The United States Congress begins investigating, monopolies, is in fact the Brooklyn sugar trust and those. That group of families, that own those sugar. Refineries, begin, pouring money into what, becomes the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. Part now part of NYU, and so, in the decades before the war there is in fact this extraordinary revolution. In engineering, that's driven by the slave economy and in some ways MIT. Is the culmination, of that story our founding. In 1861. Positions. Us and I think a unique, way to, think about slavery, not, just the way in which slavery. Transformed. And shaped, the American economy and the economy and, the realities, of higher, education, but, the way in which slavery reached past, the Civil War into. The 1870s. 1880s and, 1890s and. Fundamentally. Transformed, the nation that we became. Is. The. You. Anticipate. Perhaps the course to evolve into.
Doing, Some, historical, comparisons, and assessing, in addition, to getting fact-finding. Assessing, analyzing. And reflecting, the way you adjust both, of you just did I think. So one of the things that we were interested in is we always knew that the class would have to grow in multiple, directions we'd, have to take different, historical, angles and one. Of the things I was reluctant to do was, to write the history of other institutions, I don't, think it's fair for us to do that although those other institutions, are part of our story and so, what we've been doing instead is reaching, out to our kindred. Institutions. The, other engineering, and technical schools founded before and, during the Civil War and. Partnering. With them to create a consortium, of engineering, and science schools, that, are studying their relationship, to slavery and so far we've gotten extraordinarily. Excited. Feedback, on that and we're, looking to actually have our first meetings, this spring and a conference, probably next year I. Love. My mic is on is um you. Know here at MIT we're, known obviously for science and technology but. As the Dean of Shasta school for any sorts of social sciences part of my job Mystics is to, help ground contextualize, that. Kind of learning and in a certain way we constantly say that that the world is more the science technology, in fact it exists, within human. Human. Conditions. And it is inflect in fact the reflection, of human endeavor. But. This helps us look at it in yet another way so it's. Not merely talking about the importance of science technology today, as important, as it is but. It also this, allows us to look critically back, at that question in a very important. Part of our country's, history so I think it does a lot of provides. A lot of ways of better understanding the, nature of what science technology, education in, addition to helping us better understand our country's, history in this relationship, to slavery agrees, it's really an interesting moment, for us when you when I hear you both of you speak and you talk about the. Labor the economy, the, engineering, the, you know the combination, of all those things 150, plus years ago and what were actually undergoing, today so we. Can learn a great deal not. Just from our history in terms, of the facts but from what it means to, the present. Nora. What what. Made you go. To look, at the, Virginia. Census. Documents I mean what what drove you in that direction and what did you find I blame. The class. We. Met one day with Philip Alexander who's author of a widening sphere history of MIT and he, said to us you know at. Rogers. Memorial service major. Jedediah, Hotchkiss, spoke and when. He spoke he referred to Levi. Rogers. Negro serving man and, I. Thought well, that's interesting, who's Levi. So. It set me on a path of looking for, this person and I. Looked. At the Society, of Arts minutes, and sure enough at the Memorial there, are two references to Levi in there and one. Of the references, is that Levi is giving a tour of the. Geology of Virginia, to, a Charles. Dabney, who is a French geologist and, visiting Rogers, was ill and unable to give the tour himself so, he, Levi gave the tour that. Still didn't provide a lot of information because. It was simply, Levi. Was. In the household, or a new Rogers he met with Dabney, so, I, thought. About what we might have I looked at some of the correspondents, we have of Liam, Barton Rogers his papers didn't. Find any references, there but, in the published, work life and letters of William Barton Rogers which, is his correspondence that, his widow am a, savage, Rogers, published, after his death there. Was one reference, to Levi and, it. Was in January. 1838. And in, that letter Rogers. Talks about Levi coming, in to, the drawing room to tell him that one of the horses had died and the both men were upset. By this but, the letter, goes on and, it's the letter William has written to his brother.
And He. Says and. I'm very excited to hear that you enjoyed your visit. With Donnie as well so. It begins to put a place that three men are in the same location, in, Virginia, in 18. Late. 1837. 1838. So, I know that Rogers and Levi, were together at that time so, how. To find out anymore. I thought, of the census records I've been an archivist for a very long time and I'm, aware of how to use the records so it took a little Dipity digging. Going. Through various census records but the 1850. Census, for. Virginia when Rogers, and his bride. Emma. Were there and living at UVA with. His brother Robert and his wife I. Found. Them, all there that was good in line with all the other faculty at UVA and then, realized, that there was a slave, schedule, that was also done at the same time which, was, was. Compiled. Both in 1850, and 1860. So. I looked at the slave schedule, and there. As, head of household, is William. Barton Rogers and, it lists, six. And slaved people, in, the household, what. This means I don't, know. Anything beyond that other than we have a list of I, think it's, three. Females, and three, males a little, boy who's 10 and the, others are adults. So. There's, more work for the students, to do for the class to do to see what we can find out about these people who they are if, we can get any more detail the census, does not give any names for them it only gives ages, and. Gender, so it's. I. Said. To Dean Nobles one day if you said an historian MIT. Students, and an archivist on a path. We. Find all sorts of things, you're. All welcome to use the archives. Anytime. It's. Fascinating, I mean they just you know when, you put the emotion aside to see how your money, this is just and he sold here, just. Nobody nobody at the time or they interested, looking to that. Craig. Nora just mention she. Already mentioned. Something about perhaps, what the students could do this semester. She. So really suggested, something but what, do you have in mind for, for. The class going forward, I mean this how, do you how do you envision that continuing. The. The, peculiarities, of the MIT class, designed were first a partnership with the archive that nor and I would teach the class together that the class would actually be embedded in the archive but, also that it would be a two semester course, the students don't have to take both semesters but the fall, semester is, focused, on sort of deep dives, into MIT s history, just, the. Students defining, their own research topics, and then finding. Out as much about those topics as they possibly, can or inheriting. Topics from previous, students after this year and then, the spring. Semester, actually is the focus is a little bit different I think it's peculiar. To us it's unique to us rather. Than having the students turn over their research, at the end of the semester to. The faculty, members and. The graduate, student, who are working with them and we, produce the material, the narrative for the website we're, actually asking the students to do that in, the spring semester the, students actually do the work of, editing. Thinking. About the, presentation. Of and the production of the material, for the website, everything, from the narrative and editorial, decisions, to decisions, about the, kinds of images and documents that, should attend that narrative in, other words I want to make real the claim, that we began with that this was MIT, students. Rewriting. The history of MIT for, MIT, and. We. Want that to be true from, the first, research, step to the final, publication. Launch. Well. I we're, going to listen here, we're going to hear the students in a moment if i were a little bit behind the schedule to hear this to this but before we introduce them. Following. Up on Craig's question Melissa. How. Would you envision how, would you like to see this conversation. Evolving, how, would you like to see moving forward sure, so. I'm going to take. Make. Good use of the expert that we have here in Craig and he gave a given. His experience of going around and looking and working in other universities, and, how they've dealt with the findings. Of their studies, and one of the things he advised, me and I'm listening very closely which, was that he said listens, everyone, be. Open-minded and, invites conversation. And listen. Closely so I intend to do that and in. The coming weeks, I expect to bring together group of folks who will help me think about how we move, forward with this so, I say, to everyone who's interested stay tuned, and.
But. It will certainly be an, effort of listening, and gathering. Ideas. And in. Comments. And reactions and, such you, know my one hope though the spirit that I think I I encourage. Us to embark. On this journey is is. This you know we're looking at old things with new eyes, and I. Hope we take that sense of of, curiosity. And. Commitment. To learning the truth and taking that forward and working. Together in, a. Mutually. Respectful. Way. If we're, able to do that I'm confident, that this will be really. It is important, for MIT will continue to be more important and we can be a model, for, the University so I expect we'll begin to take up this charge. Actually. Said Melissa look let me just say that I will introduce the students now but let me just say that we all really, owe these, three individuals a huge depth of gratitude I mean what Craig. Came up with something remarkable. Our own students, writing our own history, in. A course I mean in a. Technological, institution I mean that is which, is where they need to really learn it's remarkable, the, nobles helping, us to figure out what is the right way to have this conversation and. Nora, doing this amazing, research, that that. You remind me of my days in the lab except that this is a different kind of love than one that you are doing so please all just give a good run of opposed to think. Now. I'd introduce the students who I mean they claim the credit but the students actually didn't, work, let's. Hear it from the students and the TA I'm going to introduce them all to come and join me on the stage unfortunately. My schedule doesn't, allow me to stay until the end so I'm going to be probably a little under until two o'clock or so and I have to leave but I cannot, miss AI heard that some of this already I want to hear it again. It's. Really riveting it's really worth paying attention to how they went about and how do they decide each of them to do what they wanted to do so. In that order Claire Alicia. Mahi, Kelvin, and Charlotte please join me on stage. Good. Afternoon. Uh. So. I'm actually going to take up a little time here today. For. You hear from the student presentations. And. What I want to do is actually. Take. Time to really elaborate. And describe, the work that, we were doing in the classroom, and. The reason why I want, to emphasize. The work and the skills that the students developed, over, the course of the semester, is because. It's really out of, our. Collaborative. Engaged. Discussions. That they were able to develop the vocabulary, the ways of thinking of framing, their historical, research projects, that you're going to hear today and so, I really want to underscore that and one, of the biggest and most daunting, problems.
That The students had to come up with this how. Do you craft a historical, narrative out of the research that you have and I. Do want to highlight this one particular, memory that I have where. The students recognized, of, daunting that would be and silence. Filled the room so. Alicia. I remember, leaned, back in her chair, both, mahi and Charlotte, both crouched on their computers, and. Alvin. Was just sitting there and he. Was the one to break the silence. He burst out into a grin and said don't worry guys we got this. So. I was very excited on, by. How receptive they were to, learning. Very quickly the, different strategies that and you could use to craft the stories that you're about to hear and. There were different ways we approach that so we looked at various, literature's, on the histories of MIT, and slavery and we, really dissected, it we looked at what decisions. That the scholars had made in, order to Ford the arguments, to Ford the stories, and think, about the implications and, in. Our collective discussions, the, students really, came there, was a real there was a moment, of recognition, where. We, all recognized. That we needed to interrogate. Our assumptions, about, both. MIT and, slavery. But also race, science, and technology, so, one of the readings that we had done was to look at the. History of the slave ship. And the students, conducted, amazing, sophisticated. Multiple, readings, of it recognizing. That it was not just a vessel of transportation. It was not just a feat of Engineering, it, was also a sight of violence it was a prison, there, were these multiple, layers that we needed to come to terms with. So. I'm, really proud of you guys for that. So. Not. To take too much time away I do want, to conclude actually. With a task for, the audience members here today and for those who are listening in on the livestream so, when, you listen to these histories, and these stories and presentations, that you're about to hear I would. Like to ask that you not just passively receive, it, after. These presentations. Whenever, you go back to your laboratory when you go back to your office at MIT I want you to take a take, time to look at your environment look, at the scientific objects, you're working with and really. Consider, how the, language. Practices. Your thinking, an approach, to thinking. About MIT, science, and technology, actually. Include, traces, of the histories that you're about to hear today thank. You I. Forgot. To introduce the next speaker actually. So. For. Our first presentation actually, it's my pleasure to, welcome charlotte. Minsky and to. The podium who will be talking about the presence of southern students, at MIT in its early formative years. Hello. So, as Claire said my name is Charlotte Minsky my, research was investigating, early, southern students at MIT and trying, to look. At the origin, story of MIT that we're told and reevaluate, it, in the context of the civil war.
So. I started, my research by going through the course catalogs, for the first 15, years of MIT classes, so this was from 1865. To 1881. And. I pulled out the name of every, student from the South during this period and what we have here is the 29 students from the South who attended MIT during these first 15 years they're. Looking at the demographics, of these students in general, they were evenly distributed, between different, locations in the south and so for the most part we'd, see one or two students from each city you know one from Macon one from Atlanta but no more than two students per city except. For the unique case of Louisville Kentucky. 11. Of the 29 students were all from Louisville so, in contrast to just one or two students from all the other cities this immediately, struck me as, a surprisingly, disproportionate. Representation and, I wanted to investigate why. This might have been. Looking. More, at the broader demographics, of these southern students, it's clear that there's a disproportionate representation. Not, just from the city of Louisville in particular, but from the border states at large so Kentucky Missouri and these other border states. Constituted. A surprisingly. Large portion, of those students from the south overall, and. This makes sense because these border states were playing a very unique role in America's, history during this post Civil War time. So. There are several reasons why Louisville, and the border states might have been particularly poised, to send students to get a technical education at, MIT and here, are a few of the possible factors. Louisville. In particular, had a unique role in the slave trade if, you look at the demographics, of Louisville prior to the Civil War you see that unlike a lot of other cities, in the south its percentage. Of enslaved. Residents was actually declining rather than increasing so. At first glance it seems like Louisville, was less connected to the slave economy than other southern cities but. Looking closer you. Can see that although the populate. This standing, enslaved population was, decreasing there was a really large number of slaves being transported through Louisville opening so down south on the Ohio River and Louisville. Had a really important, place in the slave trade and so. Louisville, was, able to benefit, economically from the slave economy but didn't have to undergo the same demographic, and labor shifts after the Civil War as other, more agriculturally, based southern, cities. The. Second unique thing about Louisville, was its railroad industry, because. Louisville's, economy, and strategic, position was so dependent on its place on the Ohio River as waterways. Became less important, in the American transportation economy. And railroads emerged as a more dominant. Method of transportation, Louisville. Was heavily motivated, to invest in the railroad industry and so, it was the center of really, developing railroad. Infrastructure. The. Third way that Louisville, was sort of unique in the south was that it benefited, from Union occupation, during the Civil War and so. This is something that also speaks, to the broader ability, of border states to send students to get a technical education is because unlike, other cities, in the south which were destroyed by the Civil War they, actually, had military money flowing in from the Union and, were more protected during the war.
Finally. The border states in general had social and institutional ties. To the north that were not as severed during the Civil War as states. And cities deeper south and. So all of these are just possible contributors, to. Why Louisville. And the border states might have had a stronger connection to MIT and send, more students to get a technical education in these post-war years. In. Order to investigate further vistas. Proportionate, representation and just get an idea of the relationship between the south and MIT during this time I looked closer, at three students Nelson. Whitney Conant Ernest salt marsh and Joshua breed these, were the first three southern students, to attend MIT for four or more years so the period we consider an undergraduate education. What. I did for these three students is i reconstructed. Sort of an overview of their career trajectories, after they graduated, from MIT, so. This is just a list of all of the jobs that these students, held after their graduation and. I don't know if it jumps out to you immediately, but what jumped out to me was. The presence of railroads, in all of these students occupations, I was. Surprised that out of the first three students I chose to look at not only were all of them involved in the railroad and but, the railroad industry shouldn't seem to really dominate their post-graduation, trajectories. Looking. More broadly the, students. Graduating during this time this trend of being involved in the railroads was not just limited to these three students and it was not as limited to southern students the. Railroad industry was, the number. One specific. Industry, or occupation that students went to from, 1865, to 1887. And. Looking at the United States in this period this absolutely makes sense this, is a map of the railroad system in the United States in 1861, so just before the Civil War, and. I just want to point out to you Louisville. You, can see, here. Is a really. Important node for connecting the Northern Railway. System to the southern railway system so this just speaks to the unique sort, of role of Louisville, and its advantage, in this developing, economy. So. In this post-war period we, see the development of railroads is really one of the engines of reconstruction, and there's a ton of federal, state level and institutional, money flowing into the railroad industry so. It absolutely makes sense that. Students, getting a engineering, technical education, MIT we're, going into this economy, that, had so much funding into it and was really part of the post-civil war infrastructure. Building that was so characteristic of the United States during this time. So. What this research shows is that there. Is well. There's, a perception that we often have over the north and the south the United States is culturally. Socially and, economically disparate. Areas, and. This research is showing that not only is this absolutely not true but, that MIT in particular, was, a frontier, of the exchange, of people resources. And, education. And ideas between these locations there. Was a flow, from, Louisville border States to MIT and there was a flow of MIT, education and, it might eat people back into the south and back into the railroad economy, really. The story of MIT is the story of reconstruction, and. It. Is central, to MIT, origins story that it was growing up in this period of post-civil. War economy thank. You. For. Next presentation I am proud to invite Alicia Alexander, to the podium oh. Goodness. Um, so when I was starting the class I was really really interested in the. Culture. That was emerging MIT at that time specifically, around discussions. About slavery, and its connections with race and in. Sort, of looking into these kinds of histories in the way that we talked about slavery, in the way that we talked about race they're, also different kinds of things that we're merging where, there, were very absent, conversations. First. Of these is mi t--'s reception, of the slave ship so. To give a bit of context, this story does not start with MIT and starts actually. Several decades before with. The song massacre originally known as the song incident, for, those who aren't familiar this, incident. Occurred when. A crew. I'm. Coming to deliver slaves, into Jamaica. Mistook. Jamaica Shores for the shores of Hispaniola, and went several hundred miles before realizing, their mistake in turning, around they encountered a typhoon and low, on rations they, realized that they would not make it to make a with the crew that they had on board and decided, to throw off the cargo in order, to save.
The, Rest of the crew, you should be incredibly clear this cargo was indeed the slaves on the ship they. Were not concerned about dropping, the cargo because the cargo was indeed insured and they, dropped, several hundred, of the slaves off the ship on their, way back to Jamaica and, returned. And. Returned back home without incident when, they did return the insurance, company had. Issues with paying out the. Compensation. For the slaves and when brought to Parliament, the conversation, then shifted to whether this should be a case of mass murder or should be an insurance case, it, was eventually decided, that this would be treated as an insurance case and the company was properly compensated, for their insured cargo. In. 1840. JMW. Turner created. This painting, flavors, throwing overboard the dead and dying typhoon, coming on to, depict, his. Interpretation. Of the massacre that occurred, it's. A traditional, rant of maritime painting, and was, very very. Prominent. About this painting is the. Shifting. Of colors at the top from light to dark and the. And. Though obviously the boat, in the background. And what, I also found particularly striking was that the, waves at the bottom that showed the hands and the blood and the reaching out and the eating of all these different fish and sharks of the, bodies in the water take. Up about 1/3 of the painting but what was really peculiar, about the. Painting, and its prominence, is that critiques. All. Throughout, the 19th century failed. To mention any. Have. No, mention, of any of the slaves in the water and refer, to them only as symbols and as, depictions, of death but not necessarily, as human bodies. In. January. 1882, this, painting, appeared as an imitation in the architects drawing room this, was a, pretty. Big deal because the architects, were kind of the cool kids at the time the. Architects, not only had the larger, spaces, of MIT they also had a drawing room that, sat amongst the most prominent professors, and some. Of the more nicer, areas. When. When. Commentary, about the piece of merge specifically, within the students all the commentary, focused, on. The. Architects, the first talking particularly, about the broad strokes of the piece and the colors and the tech another. From. An angry civil engineer about how architects, get so many nice things including. This painting, not. Mentioning. The content, and only the, clarity. Of the piece and, finally. Another complaint, about the architects, and their nice things. Most. Of the conversations, circling, MIT and, most. Of the conversations circling this piece at MIT are. Talk. About the technique, talk about the brush strokes and talk about the artist but fail to mention the incident that it was inspired by or the actual content, of the piece and what, I felt was very powerful about this fact is, that it's not just about what's, there it's also about what isn't. When. Talking about more explicit, save terminology. My tea I found a couple of really interesting examples. The, first being from, the the. First being um here on the right or her. Left my, right of. The. Very very first, edition of the tech and. Also on the influence, of different artists, like Arthur de Gavino on the. Different literature, that students were reading and was. Influencing, their science. So. The first one here by Arthur D little of. The class of 84, he, talks about the behavior. Of ants this, seemingly. Innocent, article that talks. A bit about how, the ants interact, with each other how they grow how they move, around and, create all these very intricate pieces. Explicitly. Talks, about how different species of ants should, tend towards, slave. Behaviors. And in, essentially. Indicates that thinking of this person, as someone, who feels that slavery is a natural, part, of. Nature. The. Idea that. The, idea that people were. Coming from different species polygenism. Was. Very very prevalent during this time and so it's not exactly a stretch to feel, as though the, way. That people were thinking about their science it's. Influenced, by how they were thinking about slavery. So. Early courses at MIT actually, included, a good amount of courses that talked. About race science, and, sociology and. Ethnology. Specifically. In course for in architecture, they were required to have an anatomy class or, Anatomy equivalent, course and. In 1882, they.
Changed This from any Anatomy equivalent course into a and. Pulled. Influences. From a Harvard Medical School course this, Harvard Medical School course had a whole, host of different writings, but one of the more prominent writings of the course was, by Arthur de Gavino he. Wrote, the essay, essay. On the inequality, of human races this. Very. Extensive essay, essentially, ranks humans in three, categories black. Yellow and white, and within. That has a hierarchy, with the Aryan race of the white being the highest and the lowest being, the darkest of the negroids, this. Was taught in an Anatomy to better, frame, and give give. Context. To, these students, about, how they should depict, certain kinds of people and how they should go about drawing, and creating those people. Also. In biology they had strong influences, from powerful, figures within their bibliography, the. Harvard biologist and geologist, Louis. Actually. His. Excuse. Me his, papers, were. Very. Very, prominent. In the, validation. Of slavery, as. A moral, argument essentially, stating that the. That. Particular race, was. Essentially, incapable, of governing, themselves and, that. The, human race does not strictly. Evolve from one ancestor but, several some, more evolved than others before the eventual mixing, of these species and finally. Benjamin Silliman who was a Yale chemist and also, one of the founders of the Connecticut Colonization, Society, the Connecticut Colonization, Society. Was. An abolitionist society that, thought, that once the slaves, were freed they should be sent back to Africa, Liberia specifically. And created. Several funds in order to do that though they never actually succeeded. He, was a Yale chemist, and even. Though he. Was a prominent abolitionist he. Kept slaves in his own home I'm, several years after the Emancipation Proclamation and. Once. They were finally, officially, freed kept them as indentured servants, in his home for. The rest of their natural lives. Finally. In course nine in general studies this. Was a more mild interpretation. Of race science by MIT, Zone dr. William Ripley, he. Essentially, states that race properly, speaking is only responsible. Only for those peculiarities, mental, and bodily which are transmitted, with constancy, along the lines of direct physical descent fathered, a son and what. Was really interesting about his take on this was that he essentially. Asserted, that even though genetics plays a very, particular. Role, in how humans develop he, also stated that culture, and nurture, has a lot to also do with that though. His stance was more mild within his course he included. Several, of these other influences, and, doesn't. Have any, other. Literature. That, goes, against the idea that, the. Darker, people were inferior, what. I found, was just really interesting about all of these influences, was. That. Things. That people think are not, absent, from their science. Science. Is not neutral, technology. Is not neutral and all, of these students that they are teaching that they are putting. Out into the world who, travel to the south and to several parts of the north and even the West take. These ideas with them not just from their.
Humanities. Courses but also from their science courses and these. And, the. Way that they validate, these ways of thinking and, even. Be seen in how we approach different. Science, today so. Like, Claire said as you go back to your labs I encourage you to challenge. Your assumptions and also to think about where your different notions of science. Come from thank, you. It. Is my privilege to introduce mahi, to the stage to speak a bit more on her research from the class. Hello. Hello, so. My research, is past semester has been exploring, the early MIT curriculum and the, circulation of ideas right after the end of the Civil War, so. In particular I'm asking, questions such as what are students and faculty members teaching, and learning and talking, about in the context of entirely new host of issues post. Slavery such as labor productivity. Engineering. Advances and the pedagogy of these issues, so. Not only are we, talking, or these students and faculty members talking. And and, circulating, these ideas these. MIT graduates are actually. Contributing. Back to the field right they they are entering, the labor force they are the ones advancing. Engineering, are, talking about methods of production. So. So I want to begin with the, motto of MIT right the mine in the hand and. The mind, represents in, and what I think is the civic and moral education and, the, hand represents the technical, and vocational education and, I, wanted to ask the question of how well does, MIT s early curriculum, actually reflect mi, t--'s motto and so. To really understand, the intersection of these two types. Of education I. Focused. On the mining and metallurgy department, which was established in 1865. This, department is particularly. Interesting for a few, reasons the, first is that it, embodied. The core principles, of the Hyneman the the, mant the mind in the hand quite. Well as we'll. See later in, my presentation. The, department was also the pride of MIT. William. Barton Rogers was. A geologist, by profession, and the mining engineering department actually started to. Include started, as, a department, of geology. And. Third outside. Of non agricultural. Occupations. So. Few occupations, made. Use of slaves as universally, and for such a long time as. The mining of coal and. And. Production. Of iron. So. I, wanted. To, look at the. Typical mining. Student what they're doing in 1873, so. These are all required, classes that. On the Left the third-year student we need to take and on the right the fourth-year student we need to take and, look at the top there's. Quite. A lot of mention of field practice, and laboratory, practice, right so. These. Students are certainly, like certainly developing, the. Technical, and vocational education. You'll. See that. The field practice actually. Refers to, mining. Excursions, that students would take during the summer starting in 1871, and, especially, 1873, these students are going to coal. Mines in, California. Nevada, Michigan.
Minnesota. Pennsylvania. So they're traveling all across the nation and. These students are seeing firsthand. Post-slavery. Labor, forms so not only they're discussing, these in. Class I'm reading these from textbooks but they're also seeing it in person and in. Addition these, students are practicing. These, this. Production. Of iron and coal on in labs so. Our second president president, Runkle. Instituted. What he called instruction, shops that. Would. Create a systematic, and thorough way for students to truly, understand, the. Ways in which mine. And coal are produced. He. Ensured, that that. That students, would not only learn these techniques as like apprentices, when it was beneficial, to. Employers. When. These students need to learn but would actually understand, a systematic, way of these. Practices, that again, would like to reemphasize that they're acting, in person when they're visiting these coal mines year after year and. The. Third part that's interesting, and circling, back to the other half of, curriculum. Which. Is the. The mind and civic, moral. Education that these students are gaining is. On. The left-hand side you will see logic, right the systematic treatment, of formal logic and on the right-hand side political. Economy. So. In eight 1876, president. Runkle convinced, a. Few. Faculty members and their wives and, got. A group of people to to go to the exhibition, in Philadelphia, which was the first in. The United States and so this is the first time that MIT is promoting. Itself on the international, stage and. In his words, his. The pride of MIT were excursions. To mining regions and manufacturing, works because this was a unique no. Other institution in the past had. Encouraged the students to actually see these the. Forms and and and labor forms actually in practice and. Again, emphasis, on actual mining and metallurgical laboratories. That. Students are again learning, and doing by. Themselves. That's. A tie back so, remember. The. Forth years required, coursework, so a mining student was. Required to take political. Economy, so. This class was taught by Professor, George Holmes Collison, who, was the first professor, of logic and. Philosophy at, MIT he. Was specifically. Hired by William. Barton Rogers and, Runkle, to. Introduce. The second half of, to. The technical and vocational education that, is the civic and moral education and. You'll see highlighted this is the, examination, that this class has to.
Define Labor and prove. That the service of slaves or any other in volunteer work is not labor in the economic, sense to, state some of the principal advantage advantages. Of division of labor show its limitations and point out some of its evil tendencies which. Seem to be counteracted so, these students are discussing, day, in and day out, these. Issues of labor of slavery, of production, of. Labor. Right so I just. Want to emphasize that. There's. Just two there's two parts to MIT, education right, not only are these students, doing. And seeing. These. Are these new post-slavery, issues that, I make tea and and the nation is, struggling. To, grapple with but. That they're also discussing, this in class and and approaching. This from both the the technical, and the civic and moral side so. Thank you so much for, listening to my. I'd. Like to invite Kelvin, Greene the second. Good. Afternoon. So, when. In. An attempt to understand, a mighties relationship, to slavery I thought. About the students how, are they interacting, and, thinking. In perceiving, race. And. Then seeking an answer to that question I chose to look at racialized, images, and MIT, student, publications, so, I, looked, at 30 volumes of the tech our student newspaper as, well, as 14 volumes of technique, our student yearbook. And, when, looking at these images I was able to classify them into three categories the. First of which being waiters, the. Second being Klansmen attire, Klansmen. Referring to the Ku Klux Klan and. The third category being entertainment. So. As we move to the category of waiters. The. Very first image of a black person to appear in an MIT student publication, happens. In 1883, in the, tech this. Caption reading hotel, Moderne no, fee no dinner, and, in analyzing, this caption. We, see there's a sort of resistance, to changing, times this. Is about 20 years or so after the, Civil War we. Have the Reconstruction, era the aftermath, of the Reconstruction, era and so. This. Being the first image of a black person in an MIT student publication, invites. Us and, shows us that MIT is not in a vacuum students, are interacting with the changing society around them and this, is one. Of the depictions of how they are doing so I. Found. 11 such images, between. The. Years that I viewed, the images and. You. Have class dinners you have cover pages of the tech and one of the cover pages I want to highlight which. Happens in the 17th volume in the 13th issue and. To give. I. Would. Like to read the transliteration in, order to provide further analysis, so, I don't, see why white people make so much fun of us colored people one, of the greatest men in the Bible was named Nicodemus. And. This. Is. Provides a series of issues not only does it implicitly, state. That black people are unintelligent, you can read the. Actual, caption, in its formatting. And, not, only does it implicitly, state, that black people are knowledgeable about the Bible but it also explicitly. Shows. That in internalization. Of the racial slur nigger as if that's how they view themselves, and. So. When. You look at the series of images I found 18 and 11 of them are waiters it begs the question is this an accurate representation of black, male Bostonian. Occupations, at this time and. That proves not to be true. Professor. Adelaide M Cromwell, who is professor emeritus at Boston University, did. A study on the black male Bostonian, occupations, and. Studied their demographic, she, not only highlights, that at this time there's an over conversation, about waiters, but. She also outlines, that black, males were not only waiters and laborers but they were also barbers, they, were tailors, they were carpenters they. Were engineers, and they were students, and. So. Out. Of a let out of the 18 images I found 11 of which are waiters none, of them include black people as engineers, as students, we. Know that black people were attending, MIT. In. Some of the images that I found. You. Know I'll go on into the further category so we can further think about how they may have been interacting, with knowing that this is how their school was representing, them on a very mainstream. Scale. We. Move on to claims man attire so. I found three such images the, first image on your far left is. The. Cover image of a local society, named dydx, the. Second image is the cover page of the fraternities all of these occur in the technique, of the yearbook and the, third image is on the cover page of the local society so introducing, the local societies the. First of which we see has, just the Klinsmann hood and in later images, there now adorned with the, white cloak we. Know that, the, Ku Klux Klan. The. Role that they played in creating. Fear and the black community was prominent, I mean in other communities, as well on their symbols of white supremacy, of racial hatred violence.
Of, Rape of murder. And these, are the images that are being portrayed and. Clearly. Outlined, in MIT. Student publications, again, begging, the question of as we consider. Is. MIT being an inclusive environment at this time how, what black students have felt or other students, who were aware of clan violence when seeing these images I'm so publicly portrayed in their student publication. The. Third category of. Entertainment. I found for such images, and. The, last of which I want to highlight I'll. Also note here, that. The sketch class in that third image of. Them drawing a black, girl may, very well be informed by the work, that Alicia pointed out and what they may have been being taught I'm in the in some of their curriculum but, in this fourth image of. A minstrel show I'm to ride context, to those who are not aware minstrel. Shows are racially charged forms of entertainment whether, it's a musical or a play or skit white. People would dress with blackface, so, that everyone is aware in the audience who they're portraying and, then they would act, in certain ways to reinforce negative stereotypes. Of black, people at this time this. Being a full page in the yearbook and, this also occurring, in the same year of the image that I outlined earlier with the conversation, between the two black waiters and the racial slur involved, this. Proves. Me to believe that a mistral show was conducted on MIT campus in this year I'm further, historical, analysis will need to be done to prove as this is true. But. The story does not start there a. Hundred. Years this is a hundred years into. The, future in 1989. There. Are a continuity, of images, arm of such images that I've shown you, one. Of which being this image and. The. Conversation, that's happening in the tech which I'll outline more. Explicitly later is. Around the Klansmen hood that's used in this image to provide context, in, 1989, there's. An event called Greek fest that happens over a different, number of years but, 1989, was special in that. 1989. Is special in that there. Was over policing in the area there were white, Virginia Beach natives that were present Greek, fest is and is a celebration. Where. Historically, black colleges and universities as, well member as well as members of black Greek organizations, such as Alpha Phi Alpha Napa, Cal Alpha Kappa Alpha would. Convene in Virginia. Beach for celebration, but. There was hostility and, there was rioting, and there was over policing and. So this image is an attempt to. Put. All those thoughts and those events into a, still, image in. The tech the. Caption reading lily-white the official suntan lotion of Virginia, Beach lily-white referring, to the.
Historical, Analysis of lily white being a, representation. Of racial hatred and. Disenfranchisement. So. In response to this cartoon, an article, was written by, Dave Atkins a graduate student class of 90 and. He. Is a Virginia Beach native and to give voice to the writings of the past I would like to read the bolded text and. So, he talked about how the conduct of the Virginia peach the, Virginia police was, commendable, if. Anybody did the right thing it was the police who faced with many opportunities to allow anger, to encourage them to misuse their authority and power chose, restraint. He. Also ends his letter saying what would those who feel they are not racist, have us do surrender. The streets to an angry mob and. So we see someone, from Virginia Beach a white male is encountering, with this, this. Story and in, response to this cartoon, but. The conversation, doesn't stop there a few, issues later denilla. Green a graduate student class of 91 on response, and, she's a black woman she lived down the hall from Dave Atkins and. She writes I, would. Like to refute most of the comments made in Dave Atkins recent letter she. Talks about how the hotel earning owners, had increased their rates and enforcement, of them stays she. Talks about how organized groups were not allowed to secure establishments, for their meetings, she. Says the police on horse and foot paraded, down Atlantic, Avenue in riot gear all that, was needed was a riot I know because I was there. She. Goes on further to state that race was an issue as it was in the 60s perhaps. He should have done the right thing and thought more carefully before commenting, on the issue who. Knows he, may live next door to someone who would be able to give him an eyewitness, account. And. So. We. See an 18 8 the first image of Klansmen attires featured, I'm in an MIT student publication, with, no black boys as president. Given. The socio-political. Climate at the time. Most. Definitely, not affirming, how black people felt toward a certain event however, a hundred years later we see an image that has now used to affirm, how black people felt in, response to an event especially. Those who were there and. This. Rise of black voice and black agency, in the same medium that was used in years prior, that. Excluded them in years prior and so, there's more work to be done more images to be found but. In considering, the question of mi t--'s relationship, to slavery it's important to consider the students. Interactions. With these things and and, I think with more research done as it relates to the students we can better understand, in Mighty's relationship, to slavery.
And Now, and. Now, I would like to invite professor Wilder archivist, Murphy and Dean Nobles back to the stage for the Q&A session. Everyone. Hello. So, now. We. Will now be starting our Q&A session, for. The, session we'll have a few students, standing by their microphones, thank, you all so much for volunteering thank, you all we. Ask that you prepare, a single. Question. With minimal. Background so, we can ask as many as possible, in the short time we have today. This. Is a topic, that we could talk about for days but we only have a few minutes, Oh. Forgive. Me if I very graciously, give you the boot. All. Right so we. Can begin with our first question. When. Were the first african-american. Students, at MIT, and, what. Do we know about what, they have said. Or thought, while, they were students here. The. First student, to get a degree was Robert, Robinson Taylor in, 1892. And. He, was graduating, architecture, there, are several other students, who attended, MIT, probably. A few years before him and there are some afterwards. But. There, are not a lot and, as. I think we all have indicated there's a lot more research to do on all, of these various questions, every, issue. That the students looked at there. Are just, raised more questions in, terms of who other people there are who. Are the people we, need to look at and to find more information about. Thank. You so much I'm so very, moved by by. This work and my name is Michel de Graaff and I'm from Haiti and I teach here and I. Was actually moved by by, the students, because. In. 2018. So the work you're doing is so much at the Antipodes of students. In, 1919. In, particular thinking about the founding of this magazine that's still being, at MIT called voodoo and. So. In 1919, so, the students wrote that. Talk about voodoo at the, very name under, which the being made, his appearance is close and mystery for voodoo. Is, that name given to certain magical, practices, superstitions. And secret. Rites prevalent, among the Negroes of the West Indies ma, particularly in the in Haiti we, did not average, travel so far to find references. To the Voodoo in our own southern state before the Civil War doing. Well. In. The archives for example have you been able to find. Actions. To the, way voodoo was being produced and what was how. Did black students feel and what was the intent, to make so much fun of a. Practice, that of, millions, of Africans both in Africa and in.
Haiti In, Brazil, so. For me something that's present because voodoo, is still being published by shares, for example so, any. Take on this question from the okay so from the students. One. Is that the, continuing, research of the class will actually examine, the ways in which as, Calvin's, research started to do, African. American, and African, diasporic. Cultures, get consumed. By. Students, at MIT during, these decades right, how they actually get. Treated. Characterized. And consumed. And. Then what the outcome, of that is and so it's one of the areas of that we're looking actually to as the, class continues, to expand into the other part is actually the, more. Geographic. The. Connections, between what we do at MIT and the Caribbean broadly, francophone. An Anglophone, an Hispanic. Caribbean to, really think about in fact the international, connections, that shape the early intellectual. And social. Culture, of the Institute, the intellectual, culture of the Institute in its formative decades, and we know in fact that that's actually a major part of both. The economics. Of higher education, in the second half of the 19th century when were founded but also in fact in the, way in which knowledge is being produced. We. Have a question from our online viewers yes. So many people, online have been asking, whether this, video will be available it, will be on the course website by the way. So. A question many. People have expressed that they are happy that MIT, is choosing, to share this history, as. It has a huge impact in our world, a, question. We have received. Someone. Expressed that they are surprised, that, it took until now for. Information. To be shared that Roger had slaves, what, took so long I. Can. You know if we're if we're surprised, by that, our. Surprise is a measure of how extraordinary, successful. We've been at it as a nation, at erasing. The history of slavery. And. We have been especially successful at. Erasing, the history of slavery from the northeastern, states from. In fact transforming. That history, into. A history of relative, benevolence, you know the narrative, actually has taken a kind of perverse twist toward the just, that. Actually. Has no real historical, foundation, to all and so we're only starting to wrestle, with in fact the, intimate. And. Relationship. Between the. Northern states and the institutions. Of slavery, economies of the Atlantic world and the stories of universities, are in fact just one part of that. People. Who don't know tourney's, painting, the slave ship is in Boston at the Museum, of Fine Arts it's. Worth spending time with I spend, time with it every few years. Was. There any stated, or public, reaction. By the faculty, to, the. Images. That kelvin showed, us. Contemporaneously. When, they when they actually appeared in the. Time. That they appeared there, any faculty, or other public, reaction, at MIT to these images so, I, would, say further. Historical. Analysis, is needed to be done to find the specific. Reactions. To the certain to the images I know, that when I looked at the images in. Looking. At all of the, student. Publications, and their issues I didn't.
Find Any conversation. When the cartoon, wa