University News

Slavery and Justice Center relocates to Waterman

Move from Alumnae Hall will bolster center, though broader funding questions remain

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, March 7, 2014

The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice will move into a new home in August when it leaves its current location in Alumnae Hall for 94 Waterman St., said Anthony Bogues, director of the center.

“The new space is great,” Bogues said. “We are working with the relevant entities at Brown to make it a space that will be special.”

The Center for Computation and Visualization’s administrative and system offices are currently housed at 94 Waterman but will move to 180 George St. in May, said Shana Weinberg, manager of the center.

Bogues said gaining a permanent location on campus is an exciting step for the center, which was created in the fall of 2012. “We are only a year old. We are putting down roots but staying consistent with the goals from our founding.”

The center, established based on recommendations in a report by the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice initiated by then-President Ruth Simmons, was formed to examine the legacy of Brown’s role in the slave trade and issues related to the American experience with slavery.

But the center is still working to build a stronger awareness of its role on campus, several sources said.

Though the center “hosts a number of events for the Brown community, I don’t believe awareness of the center amongst Brown students is very strong, or rather, it can be much stronger,” said Meiling Jabbaar ’15, a member of the center’s student advisory committee. “This issue is what the student advisory committee has been trying to tackle and work towards in thinking about ways we can increase our presence on campus.”

“I have seen the posters for the center in Alumnae Hall, but I haven’t heard of any events,” said Nathan Money ’16. “It sounds like it does interesting work, but maybe there needs to be more advertising.”

The center’s student advisory committee is working to build awareness of the center through increased collaboration with other organizations on campus, Jabbaar said, including an upcoming potluck in conjunction with the Swearer Center for Public Service, the Third World Center and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

“I don’t think that many students have noticed the impact the center has on campus, but from events I have attended in the last year, I have seen the center have the kinds of conversations about race that sorely need to be had,” said Josette Souza ’14, a member of the student advisory committee and an administrative assistant at the center.

The center has held several lectures and events this year, including a Feb. 27 “community conversation” on white privilege, featuring faculty members and local community leaders.

The center has excelled in building relationships with communities in Providence, Souza said. Community outreach efforts by the center are “about how we can work with these different stakeholders in our community to build something that benefits us all,” she said.

Despite occupying a temporary space, the center has seen large turnout at its events so far this year, Bogues said. “Community events have been well attended, as have been the lectures and discussions,” he said, adding that he expects the center’s March 10-11 screening of “12 Years A Slave” to attract a large audience.

The center will host a wide range of events over the rest of the semester, including speakers, symposiums and art exhibitions, Bogues said.

Organizing featured exhibits could attract a wider audience than the center would by simply holding lectures, some students said.

“I would be most attracted to the center’s museum-type exhibits, where you can just walk in and browse, as opposed to the scheduled events that there are so many of on campus,” said Evan Gross ’17.

The center is also working on a larger project with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, an organization located on campus that advocates reforming America’s educational system, in honor of the University’s 250th anniversary, Bogues said. The collaboration will focus on education in Providence and will include a series of workshops as well as a larger conference sometime in the next year, he added.

One struggle the center still faces is finding permanent funding, Bogues said, adding that financial resources are the center’s primary area of concern, and solving the issue will  entail a process that “just takes time.”

  • johnlonergan

    Why would the head of the Slavery and Justice Center move from Brown to Stanford? What does Stanford offer that Brown doesn’t. Could it be that Stanford is a more-progressive, more successful university?

    What is keeping Brown mired in the last century? Why can’t Brown’s “leaders” bring about needed change? Why must Brown continue to lose its talented professors to other, more successful universities?

    Is there any reason for anyone to be satisfied with Brown’s sky-high tuitions, faltering reputation, low acceptance rate (45% of those accepted choose to go elsewhere)? This alum in San Francisco is fed up with “business as usual.” It looks like a formula for failure.

    It looks like the same is true of the former Slavery and Justice Chair. Stanford may have been the better choice.

    • Justin Hong

      Where did you get that the head of the Slavery and Justice Center moved from Brown to Stanford?

  • Tom Bale ’63

    Tony Bogues is a scholar, and strongly committed to making the Center an educational and research force on campus, carrying out Ruth Simmons’ vision. It is not an easy sell, however. My own initial reaction to the Center was revulsion. Brown connected to slavery? I put it out of my mind. Since then I have taken a second look, and now am proud that Brown took up Ruth’s challenge to the community. Professor Bogues with Shana Weinberg’s able help, and others, have been working very hard to make this mandate the eye-opener it should be. As he stated funding is crucial to its success. He has plans to involve alumni and corporations in spreading the word, and raising funds. I hope he has success with that effort.