Brown & Slavery & Justice

Brown’s Response

Following the release of the 2006 Report on Slavery and Justice, the University publicly pledged to update its written history, create a research and teaching initiative on slavery and justice, and create a memorial, among other commitments.

The Committee has opened an important new chapter in the history of this University, one that compels us to embrace the full weight of its history and mission.

Response of Brown University, February 2007

Brown’s 2007 Response

Following the release of the 2006 Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, University leaders and community members took several months to read and reflect on its findings.

Members of the Steering Committee received messages from University alumni and families across the globe, from scholars beyond Brown’s campus and from members of the public from around the world. In an Oct. 23, 2006, editorial, the New York Times hailed the committee’s “sensible recommendations.”

After much deliberation, the University responded to the report with a plan of action in February 2007. 

Plan of Action

The University's response plan recognized that several initiatives already were underway in the areas of student recruitment, financial aid, mentoring and community involvement. Eleven central goals in three categories focused on ways in which the University could make a meaningful positive impact, both on and off campus.

Memorials and Commemorations

  1. Statements on the history of Brown University
  2. Dissemination of the Slavery and Justice Report
  3. Retention and presentation of historic material
  4. Establishing memorials

University leaders resolved to commemorate the University’s complicated history by publicly releasing the report, reflecting Brown’s entanglement with slavery in its written history, and working with Providence and Rhode Island to determine how to memorialize the history and role of racial slavery in the area.  

Academic Initiatives

  1. Creating a center for slavery and justice
  2. Strengthening Africana studies
  3. Expanding the Brown-Tougaloo College exchange program
  4. Supporting Brown’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative

Brown pledged to establish a major research and teaching initiative on slavery and justice while also strengthening its existing Department of Africana Studies and decades-long relationships with Tougaloo College and other historically Black colleges and universities.

Community Initiatives

  1. Creating an endowment for the education of the children of Providence
  2. Establishing an urban education fellows program
  3. Continuing support for programs supporting Providence’s public schools 

The University committed to help meet the needs of students in the Providence Public School District by establishing a $10 million endowment fund, offering free tuition to master’s students in teaching who pledged to serve in Providence schools for three years after graduation, and strengthening its existing engagement with city schools.

Read the University’s Response

2011 Progress Update

Four years after committing to new historical commemorations, academic initiatives, community engagement and K-12 student support, the University revisited its 2007 plan of action responding to the Slavery and Justice Report's recommendations and shared updates on Brown's progress.

By 2011, Brown had begun to seek proposals for a slavery memorial on campus, and for a leader for its planned slavery and justice center. It had launched a Ph.D. program in Africana studies. And more than a dozen recent master’s degree graduates, who had attended Brown tuition-free, were teaching in Providence public schools. 

In the many years to follow, much more progress was to come — from high-impact scholarship on slavery and justice to a fully funded endowment supporting Providence schools. 

Read the 2011 Progress Update