Yale and Slavery Supportive Resources

With the publication of Yale and Slavery:  A History, Yale community members and others are becoming more aware of a history that includes the involvement of some of Yale’s early leaders and residents of New Haven and Connecticut in the promotion of slavery, anti-Black racism, and other forms of exploitation of Black and Indigenous people.  Yale and Slavery:  A History provides a more complete narrative not only of Yale’s history, but also that of New Haven, Connecticut, and the nation.  It helps us understand Yale’s identity as an institution, and provides a necessary foundation on which to build a stronger, more knowledgeable, and more vibrant institution and university community.

In the process of learning, each of us will inevitably experience a range of feelings and reactions about the place and community where we have raised families, built careers, forged lifelong friendships, and made a home, even if temporary.  We may feel alarmed, sobered, angry, sad, confused, or uncertain as we reckon with the stories of those who came before us.  To fully understand and own our past, we must also accept, listen to, hear, and speak about our feelings about that past.  As we engage with new information, or re-engage with information already learned, and experience a full range of emotions, the resources and recommendations in this document can be helpful. The Group-Specific Resources on this page provide information for faculty, staff, students, and alumni. 

Issues related to racism and racial oppression are often approached with greater emphasis on cognitive processing and minimizing attention to emotions, compassion, and empathy.  Taking another’s perspective can help lead to a better understanding of complex issues and histories, and lead to personal growth.  In engaging with Yale’s history with slavery, we are reminded that this is a human story, and the humanity of those affected by this legacy – past and present – should be an important element of our engagements and discussions.

This information will be updated periodically.  To comment, contact the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for University Life .

Mindsets and the reading process

Before reading

 Prepare for reading by putting yourself in a frame of mind that is open to new information and the feelings that may accompany it, and open to the humanity of the historical people you will encounter.

While reading

The content can be informative and eye-opening, but also challenging and distressing.  Read in small increments and pay attention to the responses you experience.  When needed, take breaks to process emotions that arise, grapple with concepts presented, and debrief with others. 

After reading

Consider the impact on you of learning this history, and how it will affect you moving forward.  You can use the reading guide for personal reflection, or with a group of people reading and discussing Yale and Slavery.

How to engage


In the following thought experiment, you are invited to reflect deeply and to sit with any feelings that emerge.

Put yourself in the shoes of one, two, or three of the enslaved people discussed in Yale and Slavery:  A History.

  1. How would you describe what these enslaved people experienced?  That is, how did they perceive and interpret what was happening to them?  How did they cope with it?  How did it make them feel?
  2. What emotions or feelings were evoked in you as read about their experience?
  3. How does the portrait of Yale painted in the book affect how you see and understand Yale’s history and present?

Discussing race

These books provide information and skills that will help readers engage in honest, productive conversations about race.

      Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

      Vernā Myers, What if I Say the Wrong Thing?

A reading guide with discussion questions has been developed for Yale and Slavery:  A History for use in book clubs, at one-time gatherings, or for individual study. 

Facilitating Discussions of Challenging Topics

The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning has prepared a guide that offers practical strategies for facilitating conversations on challenging and sensitive topics in the classroom and elsewhere.

Other ways to engage

In addition to reading Yale and Slavery, you are invited to:

  • View, or organize a group viewing of, What Could Have Been, a 25-minute video documentary about the thwarted 1831 proposal for a Black college in New Haven.
  • Watch the videos on the Yale and Slavery website, which cover a variety of related topics.  Videos are found throughout the site and collected in a YouTube playlist.
  • Attend a session with the Committee on Addressing the Legacy of Slavery that will receive input on actions Yale might take in response to the findings.  Details on these feedback sessions will be posted on the Belonging at Yale and Yale and Slavery websites.
  • Take the special-topic walking tour highlighting people, places, and moments in Yale’s history tied to slavery and its aftermath.
  • Organize a group tour of the exhibition at the New Haven Museum (114 Whitney Avenue) titled “Shining Light on Truth:  New Haven, Yale, and Slavery.”  Yale is covering all admission fees through August.  Contact the Museum to schedule a group tour.
  • Join a reading group focused on all or key chapters of Yale and Slavery:  A History. A reading guide is available on this page.
  • Participate in the Beinecke Library’s online sessions on Mondays, which often cover topics related to slavery.  Past events are also online.

Group-specific supports


Undergraduates may contact Yale College Community Care (YC3), which expands options for mental health and wellness support beyond the services provided through Yale Mental Health and Counseling.  Staff in the Chaplain’s Office are also available to meet one-on-one with anyone who would like to talk.

Staff and faculty

Emotional well-being solutions and supports are provided through Yale’s Personal Wellness Signature Benefits.  Self-care and counseling resources are listed on the Signature Benefits website.  To request emotional well-being support, call Optum at 866-416-6586 or visit Optum’s website

Online resources include the ability to capture your mood or manage stressful situations using the Self Care AppTalkspace helps you engage with a licensed therapist 24/7 via text, voice, or video message.  Additionally, two onsite dedicated counselors are available for support; schedule a virtual or in-person session.  Eligible staff, faculty, postdoctoral associates, and household members can access six free confidential counseling sessions per issue, per year. 

Staff in the Chaplain’s Office are available to meet one-on-one with anyone who would like to talk.  Finally, Yale’s nine staff affinity groups support education, advocacy, and community building and can be a support resource.


The Yale Alumni Association will share this information with alumni.


The Belonging website and associated sites have resources on antiracism, free expression, and discrimination and harassment.

Reading Guide

Reading Guide and Discussion Questions for Yale and Slavery:  A History by David W. Blight with the Yale and Slavery Research Project

Issues related to racism and racial oppression are often approached with greater emphasis on cognitive processing and minimizing attention to emotions, compassion, and empathy.  Histories of slavery are human stories, and the humanity of those affected by this legacy – past and present – should not be forgotten in conversations about Yale’s history with slavery.

1.         What stories, ideas, or events in the book did you find most interesting?

2.         What part of the narrative stood out to you the most?

3.         How does this book compare to other works you have read or seen related to slavery, such as books or films?

4.         If a friend or family member asked you the most important thing you learned, what would you say?

5.         What effects of this history do you see in society today?

6.         In your own life, how do you see or experience the legacy of slavery?

7.         How does learning about slavery, and enslaved people connected to Yale, change your view of the university?

8.         How has the book changed the way you think about present-day issues in New Haven, Connecticut, or the United States?

9.         What do you think communities at Yale can do to repair the harm caused by slavery and racism?

10.       What actions will you take, as a member of the Yale community or your local community, as a result of learning or engaging with this history?