University of Glasgow Commits to Pay Reparations for Profiting From African Enslavement

The UK’s University of Glasgow is taking a first step toward paying reparations to Africans for their past profits from slavery.

According to the Atlanta Black Star, the British university is working to make amends for the enslavement and genocide of African people some hundreds of years ago. During the Atlantic slave trade, the University of Glasgow made £200 million ($255 million), according to a comprehensive report. Due to their profits from the enslavement of African people, the university will make reparations through a “reparative justice program” and establishing ties with the University of the West Indies.

The reparations work in part of restorative justice that doesn’t necessarily take the form of a cash payment to victims to alleviate suffering but offers other ways of repaying for their involvement.

“Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational,” says the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation.

In the report “Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow,” which was released in September 2018, the university

“acknowledges that during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it received some gifts and bequests from persons who may have benefitted from the proceeds of slavery. Income from such gifts and bequests has been used in supporting academic activity undertaken by the students and staff of the University.”

The University of Glasgow admits to never owning or trading enslaved people, due to its staff consisting of primarily pro-abolitionists. However, the university understood and acknowledged their participation in slavery and has vowed to use its resources to increase the understanding of the legacy of slavery, eliminate racism, and promote racial equality in education and the greater society, the Atlanta Black Star reports.

Thought the University of Glasgow had a strong abolitionist past, the school still benefited financially from the profits of enslavement, and trade in goods produced by enslaved people, according to the report.

The report states that between 1727 and 1838, at least 133 of its students (3 percent) came from the Caribbean and were mostly the sons of planters and merchants who enslaved others. Some of these students were likely the children of Scottish men and enslaved or free Black women, The Atlanta Black Star adds.

“Many Scottish graduates went on to live and work in the slave societies of the Caribbean and North American colonies. As Glaswegian and Scottish merchants, planters, bankers, shipbuilders and others grew wealthy through the slave economy, some of the money they made (or left to their descendants) was passed on to the University of Glasgow, often by grateful alumni” the report noted.

The report went on to identify some of the lives and experiences of these past students while acknowledging that the exact number of enslaved people who created their wealth remains unknown. The university is one of very few who is choosing to remember the lives and experiences of the enslaved people who were forced to help build their legacy.

Do you think more prominent establishments will follow suit? Press play below for more on this story.

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