Brown University

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Melinda Bulgin

Ms. Dillon

English IV EEP

28 March 2008
Brown University Ties with Slavery

When someone is asked, “What do you know about Brown University?” they think of a private Ivy League university in the city of Providence, RI with a very advanced curriculum. However, do they most people know about Brown’s ties to slavery and how it has given back to the state of Rhode Island in the form of reparation towards all the harsh treatment African American slaves endured due to the founder John Brown?

Brown University was founded in 1764 by John Brown along with the co - founders who were his brothers Nicholas, Joseph and Moses Brown. John Brown was a very successful merchant who was very active in the slave trade. He owned slaves and reaped benefits from doing so even though he wasn’t really supported by his brothers named Moses, who was an abolitionist (Cole).

Due to the Brown family’s involvement in the slave trade the university formed a committee called the Steering Committee of Slavery and Justice organized by the school’s president Ruth Simmons which consisted of faculty, graduates and undergraduates. The committee who decided to find out the ties between Brown University and the slave trade and to give back to the Rhode Island community the form of reparations to honor all the African American slaves who were once owned by their school 'founder John Brown and his family. They wanted to show their gratitude, to reflect on Brown’s harsh history, to the descendents slaves who built some of the buildings on campus, to make others aware of the ties between John Brown and the slave trade.

During the time the committee did their investigations there were some who didn’t quite believe their report and denied some of their allegations, which caused a little bit of controversy because their committee tried to address their report, even though they knew others would feel differently about the...
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