In October of 2019, the board and staff of The 1772 Foundation uncovered the connection between our organization and profits made from the labor of African people enslaved in the late 18th century by the early forebears of our benefactor, Stewart B. Kean. American Slavery—the abduction, sale, and dehumanization of African people—was the leading economic activity in the country by the mid-19th century. While research is ongoing, we know that enslaved African people held by the Kean and Livingston families toiled in Georgia, South Carolina, and New Jersey.
In honor of those enslaved for economic and social gain, and their descendants who continue to face systemic racism and brutality, we acknowledge the wrongs of enslavement and offer our deepest apology. And because we realize that an apology is meaningless without appropriate action, we commit to making meaningful change within our organization and to supporting efforts that lead to meaningful change towards a more just and equitable society. We recognize this legacy as a part of our inheritance, and we understand that this heritage continues to affect African Americans in the present. It is our collective responsibility to do what we can to acknowledge and right this wrong.
The 1772 Foundation has long supported heritage efforts that document and preserve the contributions of African Americans in the United States as part of its grantmaking, including the African Meeting Houses in Boston, Nantucket and Portland, the Slave Dwelling Project, and Penn Center. Moving forward, we pledge to make every effort to expand our efforts to preserve sites that tell African American history in a forthright manner.
Documents of the Kean and Livingston families reveal the names of some of the enslaved people held by them through 1795: