Rutgers University released the findings of eight months of research that reveal an untold history of some of the institution’s founders as slave owners and the displacement of the Native Americans who once occupied land that was later transferred to the college.
The work, contained in the book Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History, brings out of the shadows the story of Will, a slave who laid the foundation of Old Queens. The research, which spans the mid-18th through mid-19th centuries, also reveals that abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth and her parents were owned by the family of Rutgers’ first president Jacob Hardenbergh.
The project was the result of an initiative by Rutgers University-New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards. In the fall of 2015, Edwards appointed the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History, which grew out of a meeting with a group of students concerned about improving the racial and cultural climate on campus.
Scarlet and Black, Volume 1, will be available for sale from Rutgers University Press in December. Excerpts from the book and more information about report contributors, the committee and its recommendations can be found here.