Ruth J. Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice



Over the last three years, the Steering Committee has drawn on the energy and insight of a multitude of people.  To thank all of them properly would double the length of the report, but let us acknowledge a few.

Our greatest debts are to our many presenters and to the hundreds of students and community members who came to hear them speak.  If our report captures even half of the wisdom displayed at our events, then we have done very well indeed.  We also wish to acknowledge a small group of scholars who agreed to read and comment on an early draft of the report, deepening our thinking and saving us from several embarrassing errors.  Thank you Roy Brooks, Ben Kiernan, David Kertzer, James Egan, Steve Lubar, James Oakes, Pablo de Greiff, and Joanne Pope Melish (who has been an invaluable consultant to the committee since the commencement of its work).  Obviously none of these individuals is responsible for the errors or omissions that may remain, which are the sole responsibility of the committee.

Brown’s Office of Public Affairs and University Relations has consistently supported the committee’s work, most notably in the production and dissemination of the final report.  We are pleased to thank Michael Chapman, Vice President for University Relations; Chelsea Shriver of Publication Services; Director of University Communication Mark Nickel; and Tracie Sweeney, Molly de Ramel, and Deborah Baum of Media Relations.  Our greatest debts are to Art Director Kathryn DeBoer, who produced an exceptionally graceful final report under pressure of a thoroughly unreasonable deadline; and to Ken Zirkel and Scott Turner of Web Communications, who built the committee’s website in similar circumstances.

The digital resources that accompany the committee’s website are the creation of the Center for Digital Initiatives and the Scholarly Technology Group, two of the jewels in Brown’s crown.  No words could properly acknowledge the contributions of Patrick Yott, who built the committee’s digital repository of historical documents, and much else besides; or of Kerri Hicks and Julia Flanders, who saw the Sally website through from conception to completion.  Thank you also to Elli Mylonas, Clifford Wulfman, Ben Tyler, and Eric Resly, as well as to Alison Errico, James Ruchala, and Catrina Joos, who heroically transcribed scores of nearly undecipherable eighteenth-century documents.

We wish also to express our deepest thanks to the staffs of the various libraries and archives that we have consulted.  Special thanks to Edward Wydmer, Norman Fiering, Richard Ring, Susan Danforth, and Leslie Tobias-Olsen of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University; to Holly Snyder, Raymond Butti, Gayle Linch, and Martha Mitchell of the Brown University Archives; and to the administrators and staff of the Rhode Island Historical Society, including Bernard Fishman, Morgan Grefe, Kirsten Hammerstrom, Karen Eberhart, Dana Signe Munroe, Phoebe Simpson, J.D. Kay, Peter Griswold, Lee Teverow, Elizabeth Delmage, and Russell Franks.

A variety of other institutions provided invaluable assistance, from the Rhode Island State Department of Education (special thanks to Jennifer Wood) to a host of schools, libraries, and historical societies in the state, which sponsored public programs in cooperation with the committee.  The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University graciously accepted us as collaborators in an international conference on “Repairing the Past:  Confronting the Legacies of Slavery, Genocide, and Caste.”  Thanks to Director David Blight, Dana Schaffer, and Robert Forbes for welcoming us to share in an intellectual feast.  We also wish to acknowledge the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, especially Bela Teixeira and Richard Lobban, who have struggled for many years to unearth Rhode Island’s forgotten history.

One of the great pleasures of this project was the opportunity to collaborate with student researchers, some of whose work is featured on the committee’s website.  Thank you Rachael Bedard, Cassaundra Coulter, Brianna Larkin, Annie  Lewis, Sage Morgan-Hubbard, Kathleen Osborn, Basirat Ottun, Vidya Putcha, Viki Rasmussen, Erica Sagrans, Ari Savitzky, Sean Siperstein, Jacquelynn Henry, Rahim Kurji, Sage Morgan-Hubbard, Jeremy Chase, Susan Oba, Seth Magaziner, Quinney Harris, Erin Arcand, John Brougher, Maggie Taft, Smitha Khorana, Caroline Mailloux, Stephen Brown, Wilfred Codrington, Sara Damiano, Tiffany Donnelly, Darnell Fine, Jennifer Gold, Kimberly Hyacinthe, Sarah Modiano, Elizabeth Sperberm, Colin Brown, Kalie Gold, and Marcia Walker.

Brown’s Media Services provided facilities for taping all of the committee’s public events; special thanks to Paul Rochford, Jamie Dunn, and Karyn LoMuscio.  Preparing excerpts of the tape for screening on the website was accomplished with grace and speed by Paul Rochford and Giovanna Roz Gastaldi of Computing and Information Services.

Additional thanks to Susan Graseck and Sarah Kreckel of the Choices Program of the Watson Institute, for their steadfast support, especially in the production of the Choices curriculum, Forgotten History:  The Slave Trade and Slavery in New England; to Roger Nozaki and Kerri Heffernan of the Swearer Center for Public Service; to Lamont Gordon, director of Brown’s new Office of Educational Outreach; and to Marisa Quinn in the Office of the President.

At universities, as at most institutions, most of the actual work is done by people whose names do not appear in print.  Let us break with that practice by offering our most sincere thank you to Margot Saurette, Katherine Perry, Barbara Sardy, Rosemarie Antoni, Dan Gilbert, Mary Sullivan, and Cynthia Schwartz.  Without you, none of the committee’s work would have been possible.