Richard Gilder, Jr., 1932-2020
As long as our Center exists, we will remember and honor Dick Gilder’s commitment to us and repay it with our devotion to our craft, to our colleagues across the globe, to our students, and to the public education he has helped us foster. Much more can and will be said about Dick’s legacy around Yale and beyond. For now, we wanted everyone in our GLC network to know of Dick’s passing and something of why it matters.
In 1884 Frederick Douglass wrote this reflection on why the past and our memory matters. “Memory,” said the aging abolitionist, “was given to man for some wise purpose. The past is… the mirror in which we may discern the dim outlines of the future and by which we may make them more symmetrical.” Such may be to some extent how Dick Gilder envisioned the uses of the past in his grand, public-spirited ways. We may never make the past symmetrical. But especially in times as trying as our own historical moment, we need to lovingly remember and take inspiration from those who help us make a future.
David W. Blight
Sterling Professor of American History, Director, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, at the MacMillan Center at Yale University
Photographs from the 2013 Frederick Douglass Book Prize ceremony