PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For Kevin Boyce, Brown University has long represented hope and opportunity. It is a place, he said, that has given myriad Black students like him a chance to make some of their greatest aspirations come true.
On the other hand, the University can be a reminder of pain, both historical and more recent.
“This very campus that we stand on today was built on the lands of Native peoples, and its buildings were erected on the backs of the labor of enslaved Africans,” the Class of 2021 graduate said. “For generations, faces that looked like mine were not welcomed here.”
Boyce, now a master’s student in public affairs, decided to attend Brown in part because its leaders chose to reckon with that complex history 15 years ago — and because it continues to do so today.
“Brown is not perfect by any means, but it stood out among its peers as the institution that was best at working toward understanding its role in undoing harm,” Boyce said. “What this report represents to me and many others is that it is a start of our efforts to repair and rebuild what oftentimes people in our positions have torn down.”
The report he referenced was Brown’s watershed Slavery and Justice Report. On Friday, Nov. 12, Boyce was among hundreds of scholars and community members who gathered on campus and tuned in virtually to reflect on Brown’s ties to the transatlantic slave trade, recognize the University’s role in the ongoing fight for racial justice, and celebrate the release of a revitalized, enriched second edition of the original 2006 report.
Just like the original Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, the second edition, released Friday, confronts the University’s complex history with slavery and its legacies of inequity and injustice. The second edition includes new insights from past and present Brown leaders, faculty, students and alumni, chronicles the last 15 years of progress on campus, and is available both in print and in digital form.