By: Lane Fahey, Editor-in-Chief
In the spring of 2017, the Task Force on Slavery and Justice embarked on a year long review of Furman’s history in regards to slavery. This past summer, the report “Seeking Abraham” was released highlighting the Task Force’s recommendations for how the University can progress in the future.
“The Task Force was motivated to provide definitive answers to questions about the University’s history with slavery and understand how that history informs our current existence,” student member of the Task Force Shekinah Lightner said. “The goal of Seeking Abraham was to uncover truth while seeking to reconcile past injustices through our recommendations that address the campus landscape, finances, curricula, and community connections.”
This semester, the University announced an expansion of the Joseph Vaughn scholarship. This scholarship is named after Joseph Vaughn, the first African-American student at Furman.
“The Task Force is very excited that the Joseph Vaughn Scholarship might be available to take its first recipients in the incoming first-year class,” co-chair of the Task Force Brandon Inabinet said. “The first step in responding to our past is to make meaningful, permanent commitments in the present.”
The announcement follows the Task Force’s recommendations for the University. In regards to finances, the report states, “we recommend that the Office of Financial Aid apply 1 million dollars in need-based financial aid to students who have, by virtue of their identity, been beset by systematic, intergenerational social disadvantage and discrimination.”
“Plaques and sculptures help make a more inclusive space mostly for the people who are already on-campus,” Inabinet said. “Scholarships and recruitment create broader reach beyond our gates.”
Board of Trustees Chair Alec Taylor announced in October the expansion of the Joseph Vaughn scholarship, and that the trustees accepted the report. A special committee was formed for trustees to approve certain recommendations.
The expansion will “target African-American students in geographic proximity to the historic locations of Furman University across the region,” as the report recommends.
Other recommendations made by the Task Force include issues in regards to the campus landscape, educational practices, the community and spreading the report throughout campus in the coming months.
“Moving forward I think the Furman community needs to work on improving the inclusivity of campus… The University needs to work to ensure that all students are aware of Furman’s history and are committed to understanding and engaging with issues around diversity,” Lightner said.
The full report is available on the Task Force on Slavery and Justice’s website, accessed through furman.edu.