$1.5 million grant gifted to Michigan State University by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will go towards the cultivation of a database that harbors information about former slaves, MSU Today reported.
The database, which is part of the institution’sEnslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade initiative, will encompass data surrounding those who came to America during the Atlantic slave trade; giving individuals the opportunity to explore their ancestry, the news outlet writes. Individuals who utilize the database will also be able to view maps, charts, and graphics about enslaved populations.
The project is being spearheaded by Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History and Ethan Watrall, who serves as an assistant professor of anthropology at the university.
MSU Today reports that the project will go through several phases and take nearly a year and a half to be completed.
Hawthorne believes that the database will allow scholars to delve deeper into the dark history of slavery. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world,” he said in a statement, according to the source.
Michigan State University has one of the top African history graduate programs in the country and leaders at the institution believe that this new project will further its impact in this space. Institutions who have partnered with MSU for the project include Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland and others.
Slavery has been a common topic at colleges and universities across the country with many institutions coming forward to acknowledge and come to terms with their ties to slavery. Rutgers University recently paid tribute to former slaves by renaming parts of its campus after individuals who built the university from the ground up.
Visitors to the United Nations headquarters in New York will get a powerful reminder of the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade and its enormous impact on world history through a visually stunning new memorial that was unveiled last week in a solemn ceremony.
There were speeches intended to touch the emotionality of a system that operated for hundreds of years, killing an estimated 15 million African men, women and children and sending millions more into the jaws of a vicious system of plantation slavery in the Americas.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called slavery “a stain on human history.”
U.N. General Assembly President Sam Kutesa said slavery remained one of the “darkest and most abhorrent chapters” in world history.
It was only fitting that the ceremony take place at a site surrounded by the looming skyscrapers of New York. Slavery was the economic engine upon which American capitalism was built, providing the seed money for United States businesses to create the most vibrant economic system in the world. The enslaved Black person (whose gender is purposely vague to represent men, women and children) lying inside the dramatically shaped marble memorial, which is called The Ark of Return, is a symbol of the millions whose deaths led to the building of those skyscrapers, the visual emblems of American capitalism’s enormous financial windfall for the white beneficiaries of slavery and their descendants.
During his speech unveiling the memorial, Ban Ki-moon spoke directly to Black people in the Americas and the Caribbean who are descended from the enslaved Black people who were sacrificed.
Caribbean nations are preparing to demand reparations from the European nations who once enslaved them.
Sir Hilary Beckles, a historian who is pro-vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies in Barbados, is heading up the initiative. Beckles and heads of 15 Caribbean nations, will gather in St. Vincent to unveil their plans.
European nations are very skeptical of the plan for reparations. They think Caribbean nations are attempting to extract “vast sums from European taxpayers,” but Beckles affirms this is not the case.
He told TheGuardian.com, “The British media has been obsessed with suggesting that we expect billions of dollars to be extracted from European states.” He stated further, “Contrary to the British media, we are not exclusively concerned with financial transactions, we are concerned more with justice for the people who continue to suffer harm at so many levels of social life.”
He affirms that his plan is to open up dialogue with European nations and not to “open a can of worms leading to litigation.”
The UK Government said in a statement to TheGuardian.com, that they don’t see reparations as the answer. They insist that both nations should “concentrate on ways to move forward.”
In addition to issuing an apology for the Atlantic Slave Trade, Beckles spelled out the following demands in the 10 point plan: