Inspired by Brown’s 250th anniversary, the sophomore seminar Race and Remembering collaborated to critically examine race at Brown University. This digital exhibit highlights University legacies of erasure and histories of resistance. This is a call to REMEMBER.
The students in the sophomore seminar Race and Remembering (Fall 2014) engaged with conversations in Ethnic Studies, American Studies, History, and the Public Humanities. Students grappled with the relationship between historical narratives, memory, and social relations of power. Together the class studied ongoing local and transnational struggles to reckon with the violent histories of slavery, empire, colonialism, nationalism, and democracy in the United States and abroad.
This digital exhibit is not a comprehensive look at the history of race at Brown, but rather an invitation for future research and dialogues about Brown’s past and the future of the university. Amidst celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Brown University, and inspired by key contributions by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, students chose to create a collaborative reflection on the history of race at Brown. The group considered the stakes of remembering, forgetting, memorializing, and reckoning with histories of race on campus. They asked, how the university interacts with Providence communities, how student protests shape Brown, and how controversial racial legacies on campus are remembered or forgotten. They consulted with university archivists and mined school collections to locate key documents that will be of value to educators, researchers, students, and alumni. They took on the difficult task of making key editorial choices for narrating and presenting histories for a broader audience. The Brown University community should celebrate these student efforts. Please join these students in continuing this important dialogue.
Monica Muñoz Martinez
Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies
Alberta F. Brown to the Black Women in Pembroke College, 1 November 1968, Box 35, Folder 262, Students–Black Student Incident 1968 December, The University Archives, Brown University John Hay Library.
“Elements of Tradition and Change: Brown University’s First 250 Years.” John Hay Library. Brown University. November 11, 2014.
Brown University Office of Public Information, 1968, Box 35, Folder 262, Afro-American Society, The University Archives, Brown University John Hay Library.
“Negroes at Brown U. Begin a Boycott of Classes.” The New York Times. December 6, 1968, Box 35, Folder 262 Students—Black Student Incident 1968 December, The University Archives, Brown University John Hay Library.
“Perplexing.” Evening Bulletin, December 4, 1968, Box 35, Folder 262 Students–Black Student Incident 1968 December, The University Archives, Brown University John Hay Library.
The Black Men of the Afro-American Society at Brown University. Letter to the editor, Brown Daily Herald, December 5th, 1968.
Below is a list of suggested readings that will give further insights on the narrative of Columbus Day at Brown, the workings of public memorialization, and representations of Native American narratives:
Brown University Professor, Ned Greene, in a chemistry lab with Tougaloo College students. Professor Greene was one of the first Brown faculty to participate in the Brown Tougaloo Cooperative Exchange. This is an example of white professors teaching core Science and English courses at Tougaloo as part of the Title III Application of 1964 — the official contract outlining the partnership.
This Brown Daily Herald (BDH) publication contains an article written by Stephanie Esters, a Tougaloo student who participated in the exchange program. Esters wrote a response to BDH in which she addresses the publication’s misrepresentation of Tougaloo College.
“It’s pathetic ALL of the selected quotations indicated nothing positive about Tougaloo…This only leaves me to believe that Brown is next to heaven – no racism, no sexism, no woes of any kind.”
She speaks about her disappointment in the article failure to inform students at Brown about Tougaloo’s accomplishments and campus and student life.
In this Brown Daily Herald article, Brown students Suzanne Scholzberg writes about her thoughts on her semester exchange at Tougaloo. The article features little to no information on student and campus life at Tougaloo, later criticized by Tougaloo student Stephanie Esters in article “Tougaloo Misrepresented”
This video captures the protest from two important angles: the rally that took place outside of the lecture’s site and the protests that happened inside of the site during the lecture. Those interested on a more thorough account of what happened, and some of the aftermath, can watch this video: