Past Events

Yale and Slavery in Historical Perspective - 23rd Annual Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
The MacMillan Center at Yale University Conference

Thursday, October 28th - Saturday, October 30th, 2021

Commissioned by President Peter Salovey, a working group of historians, librarians, student researchers, and community members is conducting a thorough research study of Yale University’s historical relationships with slavery, racism, and their aftermaths. On October 28-30, 2021 the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale hosted a conference on “Yale and Slavery in Historical Perspective,” presenting the research findings in process. Topics included the university’s 18th century theological roots, the economics of slavery-created wealth, the place of Southern slaveholders at Yale, medical and scientific legacies of race at Yale, forces of abolition at the university, the labor history of the building of the institution over three centuries, and Yale’s extraordinary reconciliationist Civil War memorial, dedicated in 1915. The conference engaged the Yale and New Haven communities as well as the national context of reckoning with the past.

Click the event title for more information.

Teanu Reid on Yale & Slavery in the 18th century - Mondays at Beinecke

Monday, October 18, 2021

Teanu Reid is a joint Ph.D. in history and African American studies at Yale. Her dissertation project explores the hidden economic activities of enslaved and free people of color in Barbados, Jamaica, and South Carolina from 1670-1770. She received her B.A. from CUNY Brooklyn College. Her Mondays at Beinecke talk focuses on research-in-progress about Yale in the 18th century.

Reconciliation & Race at Yale’s Civil War Memorial with Steven Rome, Mondays at Beinecke

Monday, October 11th, 2021

Steven Rome received his B.A. in history from Yale in 2020 and has been a lead researcher with the Yale and Slavery Working Group. He currently teaches at the Cold Spring School in New Haven. His Mondays at Beinecke talk focuses on the research-in-progress about Yale’s Civil War Memorial.

Yale and the Politics of Slavery in the 19th Century with Ben Parten - Mondays at Beinecke

Monday, October 4th, 2021

Ben Parten is a Ph.D. student in history at Yale and a lead researcher with the Yale and Slavery Working Group. His research interests include the histories of race, slavery, abolition, and emancipation. He received his B.A. at the University of Georgia and M.A. from Clemson University. His Mondays at Beinecke talk focuses on highlights of research-in-progress about Yale and the time before the Civil War. 

Life of William Grimes with Regina Mason: Mondays at Beinecke

Monday, September 27th, 2021

Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave, published in 1825, is the first fugitive slave narrative in American history. Because Grimes wrote and published his narrative on his own, without deference to white editors, publishers, or sponsors, his Life has an immediacy, candor, and no-holds-barred realism unparalleled in the famous antebellum slave narratives of the period.

The work was republished in 2008, with a new introduction, afterword, and notes. This edition of Grimes’s autobiography represented an historic partnership between noted scholar of the African American slave narrative, William L. Andrews, and Regina Mason, Grimes’s great-great-great-granddaughter. Their extensive historical and genealogical research has produced an authoritative, copiously annotated text that features pages from an original Grimes family Bible, transcriptions of the 1824 correspondence that set the terms for the author’s self-purchase in Connecticut (nine years after his escape from Savannah, Georgia), and many other striking images that invoke the life and times of William Grimes. The Beinecke Library stewards a copy of the 1825 first edition. Mr. Grimes is interred nearby in the Grove Street Cemetery.

Gleaming in the Shadow of Slavery: A Conversation with Descendants of African Americans of Old Yale

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Yale and Slavery Research Project began in October 2020 with the mission of understanding the history of the university in relation to those “who actively promoted slavery, anti-Black racism, and other forms of exploitation,” as Yale President Peter Salovey noted. The project also is investigating the university’s connections to antislavery movements and the social forces that worked to undermine and dismantle slavery and racist ideologies. This panel discussion will explore lineages of families of early African-American staff and students at Yale. Through this program, we hope to give voice to African American descendants of Old Yale who lived in a world with living or recent experiences and memories of slavery.

1831 Proposal for a Black College in New Haven with Michael Morand: Mondays at Beinecke

Monday, September 13, 2021

A discussion of the college for Black students proposed to be built in New Haven, its rejection at a town meeting on September 10, 1831, and the importance of the story for New Haven, Yale, and national history. Michael Morand of the Beinecke Library discusses one of the library’s copies of the pamphlet, “College for colored youth : an account of the New-Haven City meeting and resolutions, with recommendations of the College, and strictures upon the doings of New-Haven,” published by Simeon Jocelyn, one of the advocates for building the college. View this item on the digital library:…

David Blight, Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, joins Morand for questions and answers after the talk.

This episode of Mondays at Beinecke is organized in conjunction with the Yale & Slavery Working Group.

The Yale and Slavery Research Project: Student Perspectives

Thursday, February 25, 2021

In October 2020, Yale President Peter Salovey announced the start of a research project charged with investigating Yale’s historic entanglements and associations with slavery, the slave trade, and abolition. This panel discussion will take place among and for Yale students, moderated by Professor David Blight, Chair of the Yale and Slavery Research Project. The program will touch on some initial findings but primarily is intended to provide student leaders and researchers an opportunity to reflect on this history and its meanings today in their lives at Yale. The panel is sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale, which is managing the Yale & Slavery Research Project. It is co-sponsored by Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center. Watch the recording of this event below. 

Welcome and introductions  - Risë Nelson, Director, Afro-American Cultural Center and Assistant Dean, Yale College 

Moderator - David Blight, Sterling Professor of History; Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale 


· Rebecca Amonor, YC 2021; Lead Student Coordinator, Black Church at Yale 
· Kahlil Greene, YC 2021; Yale College Student Body President, 2019-2020 
· Henry Jacob, YC 2021; Editor in Chief, The Yale Historical Review and a founder of the 1701 Project 
· Matthew Quallen, Yale Law School 2021; Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service 2016, undergraduate researcher on Georgetown’s slaveholding past. 
· Eden Senay, YC2022; Black Student Alliance at Yale Co-President 
· Nina Todd, YC 2022; Black Student Alliance at Yale Co-President 

Audience Q&A; discussion 

Closing remarks: David Blight and Risë Nelson

Mondays at Beinecke, “1748 Map of New Haven and Reckoning with History” 

Monday, February 15, 2021:

Public presentation by Michael Morand (member of the Yale & Slavery Working Group). 

Sponsored by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The presentation addresses Yale’s and New Haven’s historical connections to slavery, including the use of enslaved and free Black labor to build Connecticut Hall.

GLC@Lunch presentation: “Understanding Slavery in the North: The Witness Stones Project” 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021:

Sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Center. Featuring Dennis Culliton and Adrienne Joy Burns (member of the Yale & Slavery Working Group) 

Through research, education, and civic engagement, the Witness Stones Project honors the humanity and contributions of enslaved individuals who helped build Connecticut communities. The project started in 2017 and was inspired by the memorialization of Jews in Berlin through the Stolpersteine Project. Since then, 11 schools and over 2,000 students have engaged in the Witness Stones curriculum, learning about the history of slavery in the North using five themes: dehumanization, treatment of the enslaved, paternalism, economics of slavery, and agency and resistance. Through inquiry-based learning, students examine primary sources such property, church, and vital records; wills and probate inventories; and census data, in order to understand the centrality of Africans and African Americans in colonial Connecticut. 

GLC@Lunch presentation: “In Studio with Dana King: Shaping the Legacy of William Lanson” 

Wednesday, September 10, 2020:

Sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Center and including Yale & Slavery Working Group member Charles Warner, Jr. 

Join Gilder Lehrman Center Director of Education Tom Thurston in conversation with sculptor Dana King; Charles Warner Jr., chairman of the Connecticut Freedom Trail; and Kai Perry, Lead Educator for Discovering Amistad’s Social Justice Academy, Community Organizer, and a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut. Perry, Thurston, and Warner are members of New Haven’s Amistad Committee. King is a classical figurative sculptor, based in Oakland, California and dedicated to creating public monuments of Black Bodies in Bronze. In collaboration with the New Haven City Planning Department, the Amistad Committee is preparing to unveil King’s seven-foot bronze statue of William Lanson, which will be held near the Yale Health Center, at 55 Lock St., New Haven. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for September 26, 2020. 

William Lanson was a Black man, born sometime near the close of the American Revolution, who settled in New Haven at the dawn of the nineteenth century. A New Haven hero, Lanson helped build the city, literally and figuratively: he completed the extension of Long Wharf; constructed the harbor basin wall for the Farmington Canal; and established hotels and boarding houses in the city. Known in the Black community as King Lanson, he helped found the African Improvement Society and the African United Ecclesiastical Society (the predecessor of the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church); petitioned for Black voting rights; served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors; and provided employment and housing for Black people who settled in New Haven after freeing themselves from slavery. Join us for a long-overdue and well-deserved celebration of one of New Haven’s most important nineteenth century leaders.