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Brown Moves Ahead With Plans for Slavery Memorial


A Brown University commission has asked the school to create a memorial acknowledging its early ties to the slave trade, one that would inspire reconciliation, not resurrect shame.

The 10-member commission has been studying civil rights and slavery memorials from Alabama to France, and said in a new report released Tuesday that the project should be uplifting.

The commission did not identify a specific location for the memorial but said the school should consider locating it off-campus.

The idea for a memorial emerged from a major internal report in 2006 that explored the Ivy League school’s early role in slavery.

The report revealed how slave labor was used to construct the oldest building on campus and said many of its early benefactors were slave owners.

In 2003, Brown President Ruth Simmons, the first black president of an Ivy League school and a descendant of slaves herself, appointed a committee of students, faculty and administrators to study the university’s ties to the slave trade and recommend how the college should take responsibility.

That committee recommended a memorial and an academic center on slavery and justice.

The school assembled a new commission � consisting of Brown historians, a rabbi, a judge and others � to study potential memorials.

“The university thought to engage a broader group of civil leaders to ask the question if there’s value in commemorating the history beyond the borders of Brown University,” said Brown spokeswoman Marisa Quinn, an adviser to the panel.

“And this group of civic leaders said, ‘Yes, in fact there is, and we should pursue this,”’ she added.

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