Craig Steven Wilder studies American urban, intellectual, and cultural history. His most recent book is Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities (2013). He is also the author of In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City (2001) and A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn (2000). His recent essays include: “‘Sons from the Southward & Some from the West Indies’: Colleges and Slavery in Revolutionary America,” in James Campbell and Leslie M. Harris, eds., Slavery and the University (University of Georgia Press, exp. 2019); and “War and Priests: Catholic Colleges and Slavery in the Age of Revolution,” in Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, eds., Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). The Barton L. Weller Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a recipient of the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, he serves as a senior fellow in the Bard Prison Initiative, which provides higher education and opportunity to incarcerated men and women, and he has advised numerous public history projects, including historical documentaries and museum exhibits.
The story of the American college is the story of Atlantic slavery. This lecture examines the origins of American higher education in the slave trade and slavery.