Acknowledging Our Past

Banner Art: Courtesy of the artist, Titus Kaphar; photography by Jeremy Lawson.

The Yale and Slavery Research Project’s findings make clear that Yale’s foundations are inextricably bound with the economic and political systems of slavery. That history is not fully evident on campus, so Yale is working to ensure that its physical campus provides members of the community with a more complete historical understanding. 

Transforming Connecticut Hall 

Connecticut Hall, constructed in the mid-18th century using in part the labor of enslaved people, is being reconstituted as a place of healing and communion as the new home of the Yale Chaplaincy. The Yale Committee on Art Representing Enslavement will make recommendations for how the building’s history with slavery can be acknowledged and made evident through art. The renovated building is currently slated to be reopened in summer 2026. 

Civil War Memorial

Yale’s Civil War Memorial, located in Memorial Hall and dedicated in 1915, is a “Lost Cause” monument. The purpose and meaning of the memorial is largely unknown to most who walk past it. Recently, an educational display was installed near the memorial to inform visitors about its history and provide additional resources.

Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement

In June 2023, we launched the Yale Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement, which includes representatives from both the Yale and New Haven communities The committee is working with (and soliciting input from) members of the campus and New Haven communities to commission works of art and related programming to address Yale’s historical roles and associations with slavery and the slave trade, as well as the legacies of that history.

M.A. Privatim degrees

In April 2023, the Yale board of trustees voted to confer M.A. Privatim degrees on the Reverend James W. C. Pennington (c. 1807-1870) and the Reverend Alexander Crummell (1819-1898). Both men studied theology at Yale, but because they were Black, the university did not allow them to register formally for classes or matriculate for a degree. On September 14, 2023, the university held a ceremony to honor the two men and commemorate the conferral of the degrees.