President’s Blog: Princeton’s Responsibilities with the Human Remains from the MOVE Bombing

April 28, 2021

I was deeply troubled, as many others have been, by the questions that came to light this past week surrounding the treatment of the remains of a victim of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia.  I am especially concerned that the remains were used for instruction on our campus, including in a publicly available online course created at Princeton for the Coursera platform and taught by a visiting lecturer from the University of Pennsylvania.
Princeton University extends its apologies to the Africa family for the use of the remains in courses offered by Princeton.  I believe we have a responsibility to our campus and the larger community to understand fully and clearly the facts surrounding this matter.  I have accordingly authorized a fact-finding effort, to be conducted by outside counsel, to help us gain a complete understanding of the scope and nature of Princeton’s role in the handling of the remains and related issues.  The University will share its findings and use them to help shape the steps we can take moving forward for our community.
Princeton University’s commitment to teaching and scholarship in the service of humanity depends on treating everyone we encounter with dignity and respect.  This includes our campus community, the community at large, and those we encounter through our scholarship.  It is important to find and share the facts when we fall short, and to take corrective action that allows us to realize our commitment and fulfill our responsibilities.