by Ben Zeisloft
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill requiring several universities to start programs benefiting descendants of slave laborers.
The “Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program” was established “for the purpose of reckoning with the history of the Commonwealth” and “acknowledging that the foundational success of several public institutions of higher education was based on the labor of enslaved individuals.”
The bill — signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) on May 5 — forces Longwood University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Military Institute, and the College of William and Mary to implement the program “with any source of funds other than state funds or tuition or fee increases.”
The universities must begin “identifying and memorializing, to the extent possible, all enslaved individuals who labored on former and current institutionally controlled grounds,” then provide “a tangible benefit such as a college scholarship or community-based economic development program for individuals or specific communities with a demonstrated historic connection to slavery that will empower families to be lifted out of the cycle of poverty.”
Each university must continue the program “for a period equal in length to the period during which the institution used enslaved individuals” or “until scholarships have been awarded to a number of recipients equal to 100 percent of the population of enslaved individuals identified.”
Private institutions that have benefited from slavery are “strongly encouraged” to participate in the program “on a voluntary basis.”
During the bill signing event at the University of Virginia, Gov. Northam said that the bill would help Virginia address its past, according to NBC 12.
“You know we’ve had 400 years of history and a lot of it is not good history. It is time that we all listen and learn,” he commented. “The more we know, the more we can do, the more action we can take. It’s time to right the wrongs of the past.”
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Ben Zeisloft is a Campus Reform Student Editor and Pennsylvania Senior Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. He is studying Finance and Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Benjamin also writes for The UPenn Statesman and the Wharton International Business Review.
Photo “Ralph Northam” by Ralph Northam.