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In ‘Seeking Abraham’ Furman reckons with its past

Post-Civil War photo of Cherrydale Mansion. The namesake for "Seeking Abraham" is pictured in the center.

In response to Furman’s efforts to uncover details about the university’s historical ties to slavery, some may ask, “Why dredge up this uncomfortable past?” Furman’s Task Force on Slavery and Justice was launched in 2017 by Furman Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs George Shields. It is led by Communication Studies professor Brandon Inabinet (task force chair), and History professor Steven O’Neill, who oversees six Furman students involved in the initiative.

The group is charged with understanding among other things Richard Furman’s stance on slavery, and generally how the university was supported and built through its connections to slavery. Task force members contend that the research into the past, no matter how uncomfortable, is a necessary step for a better future where “Furman is a leader in welcoming all races and backgrounds to campus.” ACS Palladian, a publication of the Associated Colleges of the South, offers an update on the progress of “Seeking Abraham,” a moniker for the report due out this year by the Task Force on Slavery and Justice.

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