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Racism, Civil War, and the Ivy League


Craig Wilder, Ph.D., FCRH ’87

During the pre-Civil War era, much of the North and its institutions worked for the emancipation of all slaves and the end to racial segregation. In his latest book,Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), MIT history professor Craig S. Wilder, Ph.D., FCRH ’87, does much to expose another side of history. He documents very real ties between Northern universities—the Ivy League in particular—and the perpetuation of a slave economy and racial inequality.

Wilder returns to his alma mater for a lecture on the Rose Hill campus on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Flom Auditorium of William D. Walsh Family Library, titled “How Slavery Shaped Schools: Northern Opposition to Black Education in Pre-Civil War America.”

His lecture will focus on African Americans’ struggle to gain access to higher education, including attempts to build colleges and to integrate existing schools.

“Cities like New York had deep economic ties to slavery in the South and the West Indies, a fact that influenced their politics and created a deep anti-abolitionist tradition,” said Wilder. “These regions saw extraordinary violence and resistance—mob attacks, assaults, and court proceedings—to stop the higher education of African Americans.”

A native of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Wilder earned his undergraduate degree in history at Fordham before moving on to Columbia University to attend graduate school and earn two masters’ and a doctoral degree. He worked in the Bronx as a community organizer after graduation.

The lecture is sponsored by the Dean of the College of Fordham at Rose Hill and isopen to the public.

Wilder discussed the book on NPR this past September.


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