Brown & Slavery & Justice

Brown & Slavery & Justice

Confronting Brown University’s history with racial slavery to change the present

In 2003, Brown University embarked on a deep investigation into its historical relationship to racial slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Brown released its groundbreaking Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice in 2006, confronting and publicly documenting the University’s complex history with the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies of anti-Black racism, racial domination and injustice. 

Brown was among the first institutions of higher education in the United States to publicly catalogue its ties to racial slavery. The Slavery and Justice Report and the University’s ongoing research and scholarship continue to serve as a national model for responsible scholarship. 

The report established the importance within the Brown community of continued inward examination and ongoing accountability for the profound consequences of racial slavery, including systemic racism and economic inequality. These values have formed the basis for the concrete actions the University continues to take to create a more diverse and inclusive academic community and to ensure that members of historically underrepresented groups can thrive and fulfill their full potential as scholars and as leaders at Brown.

Slavery and Justice Report

The 2006 Slavery and Justice Report, a 2021 expanded second edition released 15 years later with context and commentary, and a digital teaching edition all document Brown’s historical entanglement with racial slavery.


An ongoing commitment to confront legacies of slavery and ensure racial justice include research and scholarship, active memorialization, community initiatives, and action plans that set a standard for examining the past with a foundation in accountability.

National Impact

Brown’s landmark work confronting its history continues to guide explorations of racism and violence, justice and equity across colleges and universities and generations of educators, scholars and students.
The University’s post-Civil Rights Era history reflects Brown community members’ decades-long activism and efforts to confront the enduring legacies of racial slavery and anti-Black racism on campus and beyond.
Brown is committed to ongoing teaching, scholarship and initiatives addressing racial slavery in America.