In the institution’s first decades, operations relied heavily on the forced labor of enslaved persons leased by the institution. Enslaved persons were a constant presence at the Dunlora education center that laid the groundwork for the institution’s 1832 formation, and on the two early campuses: Spring Farm and the “Columbia” location at what is now Broad and Grace Streets. Using the “slave hire” system, the institution leased individuals from their enslavers, including Robert Ryland. Enslavement also contributed to the wealth of many of the institution’s leaders and donors.
This section includes findings of recent research about the involvement of the institution and its leaders in enslavement; the role of enslaved labor at the institution; the stories and names of individual enslaved persons recovered through the research; and the institution’s ties to First African Baptist Church and its large congregation of enslaved and free Black members.