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Slavery and Justice – The second report of Brown University

Fifteen years ago the first report, Slavery and Justice, was released by Brown University, having been three years in the making. This month, 2021, Brown University releases its revised report.

The new report supplements the existing one. It is required reading of all Freshman before entering university study.

The committee’s charge

The president’s charge to the steering committee was to examine the University’s historical entanglement with slavery and the slave trade and to report our findings openly and truthfully.

“But we were also asked to reflect on the meaning of this history in the present, on the complex historical, political, legal, and moral questions posed by any present-day confrontation with past injustice. In particular, the president asked the committee “to organize academic events and activities that might help the nation and the Brown community think deeply, seriously, and rigorously about the questions raised” by the national debate over reparations for slavery.

(Not to address reparations), its object, rather, was “to provide actual information and critical perspectives to deepen understanding” and enrich debate on an issue that had aroused great public passion but little constructive public dialogue.”

In the recommendation section, the report speaks to these points:

To tell the truth in all its complexity


Create a center for continuing research on slavery and justice

Maintain high ethical standards in regard to investments and gifts

Expand opportunities at Brown for those disadvantaged by the legacy of slavery and the slave trade

Use of the resources of the university to help ensure a quality education for the children of Rhode Island

The last paragraph of the report, prior to its listing of the recommendations, above, is this:

All of which leads to one final conclusion. If this nation is ever to have a serious dialogue about slavery, Jim Crow, and the bitter legacies they have bequeathed to us, then universities must provide the leadership. For all their manifold flaws and failings, universities possess unique concentrations of knowledge and skills. They are grounded in values of truth seeking and the unfettered exchange of ideas. They are at least relatively insulated from political pressure. Perhaps most important, they are institutions that value historical continuity, that recognize and cherish the bonds that link the present to the past and the future. The fact that so many of our nation’s elite institutions have histories that are entangled with the history of slavery only enhances the opportunity and the obligation.

Read the complete report: Slavery and Justice, here:

Brown University announced some of the details to address educational assistance to Providence students – RINewsToday summarized this in a story – here:

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