Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation: What is the Furman Legacy?

By Marian Baker, Opinions Editor         Furman University. FU. “Furmie.” Or most commonly, Furman.         These are the names with which we refer to our cherished university. However, many studen…

Source: Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation: What is the Furman Legacy?

Author: Felicia Furman

Filmmaker and advocate of racial reconciliation.

9 thoughts on “Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation: What is the Furman Legacy?”


    This article was recently published in this university’s magazine by a student involved with organizing a day of truth and healing at Furman University around the issue of slavery. The university was founded by and named for my ancestors, who were Baptist ministers and slave owners. I’ve written about them in other posts in BitterSweet. I am told that my research in the archives at Furman University–looking for names of those who my ancestors enslaved–sparked student and faculty interest in addressing this important part of the history of their school. More later…..

  2. I wrote a response which was lost in the ethosphere while changing my Word Press password. On reflection, I added little to the conversation. Still learning how to listen more & bloviate less. Did you read Harry Belafonte’s op.ed. in today’s (11/8/16) NYTimes, “What do we have to Loose? Everything!”?

  3. Felicia, your work, the story about it, and the story you told us in our recent meeting about the spreading ripples from your research are a powerful illustration of how, each of us, working at what we care about and persevering in search of the truth, can do more than we might anticipate to achieve the changes we care about. Thanks for your work!

  4. Thanks for your ongoing work. It would be ironic if Universities did not work to confront and rediscover their histories. The efforts at Georgetown, Yale, Brown and Harvard Law School are also to be commended.

    1. Furman University should not be surprised this is coming to the fore. So many institutions are finally speaking the truth whether voluntarily or under protest. Many in my family will not be pleased but it’s about time we all accept the reality of slavery’s role in the founding of many institutions and of the entire country. Thank you for your support.

  5. Ms. Furman, as a current student at the University, I can assure you this issue has not gone away, and for some, the pain and effects of this legacy are becoming clearer and necessitating long-overdue action. Do you maintain any contact or involvement with the school? I appreciated the perspective you offered in your work on this site but would love to learn more about your journey. I know others would too. All the best.

    1. Hello, thanks for contacting me. The University and my family have not made any effort to address their connection to enslavement and this reality will never go away. But we can make effort to explore and acknowledge the reality of our ancestors’ world and try to come into right relationship with descendants. I’ve spend many years examining my mother’s slave owning ancestors (see have just begun to explore my father’s side with the help of Jeffrey Makala in Special Collections at the Furman Library. It is necessary for me to do this in order to heal myself and offer historical information to those searching for ancestors enslaved by mine. There is an effort of Furman faculty (Brandon Inabinet) and students to hold a “coming together” at Furman to speak the truth and evoke the possibility of healing. An organization I belong to, Coming to the Table (see, will be involved in planning the event. I can pass along your contact information to him if you want to give me an email address and can also provide you with a link to a PBS film I made entitled Shared History, which will give you an idea of my journey. Hope I have a chance to meet you at the Furman gathering.

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