Founded in 1826, Furman University is a private, predominantly-White, liberal arts institution in Greenville, South Carolina, and it represents the oldest private higher education institution in South Carolina. Furman has joined the dozens of colleges and universities across the United States currently confronting and making amends with their participation in slavery. And here we are, almost 200 years after its founding, when Furman begins an overdue reckoning process. In the publication of the op-ed "Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation: What is the Furman Legacy of Slavery?", Furman student, Marian Baker '17, poses a critical question that invites the campus community to engage in honest dialogues, reflections, and actions to gain a deeper understanding of the history of our institution. For Baker, it was essential to take responsibility for a history that has profoundly affected our institution and what it stands for. 

As a result of Baker's call for action, in April of 2018, former Furman Provost, Dr. George Shields, with the support of President Elizabeth Davis and the Furman Board of Trustees, forms the Task Force on Slavery and Justice to gather and share a more nuanced and interesting institutional history. It is thanks to the efforts of students, faculty, and staff, the painful dialogues on the legacy of slavery, and to the recommendations presented by the Task Force in the Seeking Abraham's report (2018), that Furman has the opportunity and the means to pass down more equitable legacies in the campus landscape, university finances, educational practices, and the community. 

In a similar fashion to the Seeking Abraham Report and its accompanying physical exhibition held in 2018, the Furman's Legacy of Slavery Digital Exhibit was created to increase access to historical artifacts and documents that uncover a painful practice engendered by the Lost Cause ideology and rhetoric of our institutional founders, who amassed surmountable intergenerational wealth in great part by enslaved labor. Nearly all the university’s largest donors and trustees were enslavers, and many of them were planters (a designation given to those who enslaved twenty or more individuals). In fact, Furman’s fifteen key founding funders and leaders held in bondage an average of forty enslaved individuals a piece. We hope that our contributions to the Locating legacies of Slavery Database will tell a more comprehensive and shared story on how the legacy of slavery still resonates for many of our higher education institutions and serve as a path for our communities to recognize and learn more from this harsh history.