Brown & Slavery & Justice


Since the Slavery and Justice Report was released in 2006, a commitment to confronting historical injustices, to effecting real change, and to addressing issues of diversity and justice have continued to fuel meaningful transformation of culture and practices at Brown, adding to well-established programs and early initiatives dating to the era of the Civil Rights Movement.

Brown University’s reckoning with racial slavery didn’t end with the Slavery and Justice Report. 

Since the report was released in 2006, a commitment to active remembrance and addressing persisting societal issues of inequity and injustice has been woven into the fabric of Brown, from its teaching and research to its admissions and hiring practices. The academic legacy of the report includes a thriving slavery and justice center; an ever-growing breadth of courses touching on the repercussions of slavery and anti-Black racism in medicine, media and other areas of society; expanded relationships with historically Black colleges and universities; and a robust relationship with the Providence Public School District.

Yet the report’s influence at Brown extends beyond teaching and learning. Ten years later, the 2016 launch of Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University — commonly known as the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, or DIAP — created a roadmap for meaningful transformation of cultures and practices that have historically excluded many groups from higher education. And the report has forever altered the physical landscape at Brown, bringing a poignant Slavery Memorial to the Quiet Green at the heart of campus.

Legacies of the Report

An iron and stone sculpture, installed in 2014 on the Quiet Green, serves as a crucial everyday reminder of Brown’s historical ties to the transatlantic slave trade.
Brown hosts a renowned Department of Africana Studies, an ever-expanding selection of courses focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, and strong relationships with historically Black colleges and universities across the country.
The University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) — followed by DIAP Phase II — quickly became a national model for its concrete, achievable actions to build a more fully diverse, equitable and inclusive institution as a core element of academic excellence.

Investment in Long-Standing Efforts

Brown has a history of scholarship, study and campus initiatives dating back to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Brown continues to invest in and support programs and initiatives related to race, justice and equity.

The Brown Center for Students of Color, first established as the Third World Center, emerged in response to the needs of students following protests in 1968 and 1975. Established in 1976, the center was designed to serve the interests and meet the needs of all students of color and to promote racial and ethnic pluralism in the Brown community. The BCSC’s Third World Transition Program continues to welcome new students to Brown with three days of workshops and community-building programs that center the student of color experience.

The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) was established in 1986 as one of the nation's earliest academic centers dedicated to research, scholarship and academic exchanges on issues of race and ethnicity. Brown has an ongoing commitment to growing the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. Through the CSSJ and CSREA, confronting and combating racism in society at large has become a core part of the University’s academic priorities.

Born out of student activism of the 1960s, Churchill House is the home of the Department of Africana Studies and Rites and Reason Theatre, one of the oldest continuously producing Black theaters in the country. The department and theater play an important role in intellectual and artistic life at Brown. Plans for a full renovation and expansion of Churchill House to enable the building to support the needs of these programs were developed early in 2021.

As a residential program house on campus since 1993, Harambee House is described as “a living center for all those interested in the politics, history, society and other aspects of African and African American culture.” Brown has committed to developing a concrete proposal to ensure Harambee House supports the growing number of interested students.

Convened by then-Brown President Vartan Gregorian in 1992, the Leadership Alliance, the executive office for which is housed at Brown, works to address the stark shortfall of individuals from historically underrepresented groups who earn doctoral degrees and pursue research careers in academia, the public sector and industry.

Launched in May 1964 as the Brown-Tougaloo Cooperative Exchange, the Brown-Tougaloo College Partnership (BTP) has become a model for similar relationships between prominent universities and historically black colleges in the South. It has enabled generations of students and faculty at Brown and Tougaloo College to study with and learn from each other through academic and cultural exchanges, collaborative research ventures, joint fellowship programs and administrative engagements.

The Watson Institute is a community of scholars, practitioners and students whose work aims to better understand and address critical challenges that include poverty and inequality, natural disasters, ethnic conflict, rapid urbanization and climate change. As its reputation grows internationally as an esteemed policy center, the institute is intensifying its focus on the study of structural racism, mass incarceration, inequality and the militarization of domestic policing, often partnering with the CSSJ, CSREA and Department of Africana Studies to seek greater understanding of the tools of oppression that continue to threaten Black, Indigenous and other people of color.