Davidson College Apologizes for Role in Perpetuating Slavery and Systemic Racism

On behalf of the Davidson College Board of Trustees, President Carol E. Quillen acknowledges and offers an apology for the college’s complicity in perpetuating slavery and the unjust laws and false ideas that upheld racist systems and practices after slavery was outlawed.

The following is the video transcript:

Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Davidson College, I as president affirm our collective responsibility, as stated in our Statement of Purpose, “to assist students in developing humane instincts and disciplined and creative minds for lives of leadership and service.” We’re therefore obligated to shed light on and speak the truth about our own actions, past and present, that draw into question our commitment to this Purpose.

Established in the fall of 2017, the Commission on Race and Slavery has for over two years investigated the connection between Davidson College and slavery. That relationship is clear and unambiguous.

From 1837 to 1865, Davidson College benefitted from creativity, labor and talent stolen from Black people. By participating in and profiting from slavery, by condoning it and in some cases ardently defending it, members of the Davidson community helped to sustain and perpetuate this horrific institution.

We acknowledge, regret and offer our deepest apology for the College’s complicity in perpetuating slavery.

Further, we acknowledge, regret and offer our deepest apology for the College’s complicity, after slavery was outlawed,  in perpetuating unjust laws and false ideas that systematically denied to generations of Black Americans freedom, equality and opportunities that are a birthright. In upholding unjust laws and false ideas, the College betrayed its obligation to honor the dignity of each person and its commitment to a quest for truth.

While an apology is an important acknowledgement, we know that by itself it is insufficient. We have much work to do to understand the pain and injury the college has caused as well as to appreciate fully the strength, gifts, and power of enslaved persons and our foundational indebtedness to them.

Acknowledging that perhaps forgiveness is too much to ask, we, the college leadership and Davidson community, pledge to descendants of those whose labor the College has stolen and to Black people whom the College’s racist practices have harmed that we will work to understand the injury and pain we have caused and that we will strive to make amends, beginning with the actions announced today. As an institution with moral responsibility, Davidson College affirms our commitment to acknowledge fully wrongs of the past and to act now and in the future for a just and humane campus and world.