MIT Exploring Link Between Slavery and Science, Discovers Founder Was a Slave Owner

MIT is known for giving the best and the brightest a foundation in science. But, until recently few knew a dark secret about its founder.

“Our founder William Barton Rogers was a slave owner, before he comes to Boston in 1853 with the idea of MIT, he owns six people,” Dr. Craig Steven Wilder said.

Wilder is an MIT professor that teaches the class “MIT and Slavery.”

In the class that started this past fall, students and researchers uncovered how MIT has its roots in the slave economy.

“Really looking at the relationship between science, engineering and slavery. The way in which the slave economy actually provided the funding for the rise of the very disciplines that we cherish,” said Professor Wilder.

After revelations that Harvard and other Ivy League schools have direct connections to slavery, MIT’s leadership decided the prestigious school needed to look into its own past.

“MIT faces hard challenges," said Dean Melissa Nobles. The ‘MIT and Slavery’ class is pushing us into a national conversation.”

“In the same way slavery was central to the rise of the United States,” said Professor Wilder, “slavery was central to the rise of MIT.”

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