Slavery flyer is torched

December 2, 2011
By

CENTRAL JP—A flyer about Harvard University’s links to slavery was burned next to the front door of the Haymarket People’s Fund last month in an apparent act of protest.

“This is shocking, considering that JP is thought to be a progressive neighborhood,” said Jennifer Dowdell-Rosario, a Haymarket employee who posted the flyer outside the nonprofit’s 42 Seaverns Ave. door. “It just [goes] to show that racism is alive and well even in our local community.”

The oversized flyer advertised the unveiling of “Harvard and Slavery,” a student-led report about Harvard’s unacknowledged connections to slavery. Dowdell-Rosario is also a Harvard student who participated in the research.

Haymarket Executive Director Karla Nicholson, who discovered the minor burn damage on Nov. 15, called the incident “very troubling.” The flyer was burned on a small bulletin board tucked into the building’s open entryway. It was the only item burned. Scorch marks were left on the board, but any fragments of the flyer were removed, she said.

The burning could not have been an accident, and it is unlikely that anyone in the office building, which houses left-leaning organizations, was responsible, said Dowdell-Rosario. Haymarket, which funds progressive causes, was not involved in the slavery report, but its staff attended the event. The event had already happened when the flyer was burned.

Haymarket did not file a police report, but Dowdell-Rosario said she was reconsidering that.

“We don’t want them to burn down the building,” she said.

Sven Beckert, the Harvard history professor who supervised the students who created the report, told the Gazette that he is unaware of any similar incidents. He said the focus should be the contents of the report, which is available at harvardandslavery.com.