A new initiative at Rutgers University, the Scarlet and Black Project, has begun to document the histories of African-Americans and Native Americans at the institution. It is a history that included slave labor.
Started by Rutgers’ chancellor Richard Edwards, the project has just published “Scarlet and Black: Volume 1.” Associate professor Marisa Fuentes, one of the book’s editors, says that among the surprising findings was that famed abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth was owned by the parents of Jacob Hardenbergh, the university’s first president. She later escaped to freedom with her infant daughter.
“We are … one of the most diverse higher ed institutions in America today. But we didn’t start out that way,” said Edwards. “So I think the more that we understand the history, the more we can discuss it, and kind of come to grips with it.”
Jasmine Dennis, president of Rutgers’ Black Student Union, said, “It’s everyone’s history, it’s not just our history, so everyone should be learning about it … I think it’s a great step.”
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