Brown & Slavery & Justice

Digital First Readings

With a digital teaching edition of the Slavery and Justice Report and a series of discussion seminars, incoming first-year undergraduates are able to grapple with Brown’s historical ties to the slave trade.

In 2020, the University created a digital “teaching edition” of the 2006 Slavery and Justice Report. This took place as horrific incidents of racism and violence against Black people across the country shined a harsh spotlight on the legacies of racial slavery in America.

As part of the First Readings program, Brown’s incoming undergraduates read the newly released digital edition of the original Slavery and Justice Report as part of their orientation. The University asked incoming first-year undergraduates to cast a critical eye toward Brown’s own connections to racial slavery.

First Readings is an opportunity for students to come together as a class to explore one text in detail, creating a common touchstone from which they may begin and return to throughout their studies at Brown. The teaching edition of the Slavery and Justice Report was updated to provide students with an interactive reading experience; present an expanded collection of historical documents with transcriptions; and provide tools to highlight passages and add notes, as well as an array of supplemental resources for students. 

The First Readings selection committee selected the Slavery and Justice Report again as the text for Fall 2021 as part of a pilot program to incorporate this report more formally into future orientations. The creation of the teaching edition now gives generations of Brown students an opportunity to form their own relationships with Brown’s complicated history.

First Readings News

Brown’s watershed 2006 Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice detailed the University’s historical ties to the slave trade, spurring major change on campus and prompting similar reckonings across the United States.
Published 15 years later, an expanded second edition of the Slavery and Justice Report features essays that offer new insights on the persistent and evolving impact of Brown’s original 2006 report.