Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles commented on the letter, penned by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne to Harvard University’s President, Lawrence Bacow, demanding reparation payments “for the gains Harvard enjoyed at the expense” of Antiguan slaves.
Sir Hilary said, “The leadership of the Harvard Law School is fully aware of the truth and ethical power of Prime Minister Browne’s case, and is being urged by its professors and students to engage the claim. Harvard Law is unique in the USA in that it original funding came from the Caribbean and has slavery roots. Until it deals with the ethical issues before and behind it, claims to excellence will always be questioned by persons in pursuit of justice.”
In August this year, The UWI and the University of Glasgow signed the first ever agreement for slavery reparations since British Emancipation in 1838.
The terms of the £20 million agreement include the University of Glasgow’s commitment to provide £20 million to fund research to promote development initiatives to be jointly undertaken with The UWI over the next two decades, through a jointly-owned and managed institution to be called the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research The landmark Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities opened a new era in the global reparations movement.
It represents the first occasion on which a slavery-enriched British or European institution has apologized for its part in slavery and committed funds to facilitate a reparations programme.