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February 1, 2007


Historian to Discuss Brown University's
Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice

Brown Report Cover

In 2003, in the context of a campus debate about reparations for the descendants of slaves, President Ruth Simmons of Brown University created a committee to investigate the university's relationship to slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. On Sunday, Feb. 4, Bryn Mawr President Nancy J. Vickers and the Brown Club of Philadelphia will sponsor a public address by the chair of that committee, which issued its report in 2006. Brown Associate Professor of American Civilization and Africana Studies and History James T. Campbell will offer "A Long Time Ago: Reflections on Brown University's Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice," in Thomas Great Hall at 2 p.m. The address is free and open to the public; a reception will follow.

The Brown committee's charge was not only to investigate the university's history, but also to help the community grapple with the "complex historical, political, legal and moral questions posed by any present-day confrontation with past injustice." With the aid of Brown faculty members and student researchers, the committee collected a great deal of information, some of it surprising to New Englanders unaware of the region's intimate connection with the slave trade. It sponsored more than 30 public events, including lectures, forums, film screenings and two international conferences exploring the experiences of other societies and institutions that have addressed legacies of historical injustice.

James T. Campbell
James T. Campbell

At the lecture, Campbell will discuss the committee's findings and entertain questions, comments, criticisms and suggestions about its work. The final report and other materials are available at

Campbell is the author of Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa, which was awarded the Organization of American Historians' Frederick Jackson Turner Prize and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He is currently working on two books, a study of African American travelers in Africa and a history of the "Americanization" of South Africa. He is also co-editing, with his Brown colleague Robert Lee and Matthew Guterl of Indiana University, an anthology entitled Race, Nation and Empire in American History, forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press.


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