Many colleges and universities are acknowledging and examining critically their institutional ties to slavery, segregation, racism, and discrimination. On some campuses, activity has focused on removing monuments, statues, and buildings that commemorate known white supremacists and symbolize institutional complicity in systems of oppression. However, the movement for truth-telling campus history projects predates recent monument protests and encompasses much more than physical (mis)representations of racist individuals, actions, or events in the past. The Lemon Project at William and Mary, for example, established in 2009, seeks to “better understand, chronicle, and preserve the history of blacks at the College and in the community and to promote a deeper understanding of the indebtedness of the College to the work and support of its diverse neighbors.”
In the 2017-18 academic year, James Madison University joined Universities Studying Slavery (USS) to benefit from the Virginia-based consortium’s collective expertise in “historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education and in university communities as well as the complicated legacies of slavery in modern American society.” This JMU-USS announcement explains how this institution’s work aligns with efforts elsewhere. Examples of other institutions’ campus history projects can be found by clicking through the members links on this page or select examples, below.
Projects that acknowledge institutional ties to slavery & its legacy for current students
University of Virginia
See the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University. http://slavery.virginia.edu/
Harvard and Slavery Project http://www.harvardandslavery.com/
Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice; presidential commission established 2003 to study institutional ties to slavery at its founding and afterwards.
William & Mary
The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation. The Lemon Project at William and Mary has a goal of “contributing to and encouraging scholarship on the 300-year relationship between African Americans and the College, and building bridges between the College and Williamsburg and the Greater Tidewater area.”
Princeton Slavery Project: https://slavery.princeton.edu/ .
Projects that acknowledge institutional ties to segregation & its legacy for current students
University of Virginia
See the President’s Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation https://segregation.virginia.edu/
University of Richmond
Race & Racism at the University of the Richmond is an interdisciplinary, community-based project providing online access to selected archival resources housed at Virginia Baptist Historical Society, Rare Books & Special Collections at the University of Richmond, and The Collegian Newspaper Archive.
Wilson Legacy Review Commission https://wilsonlegacy.princeton.edu/
Recommendations, report, posted online. Recommended retention of name, but new steps to redress inequities.
University of Mississippi
“Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History & Context (CACHC) was established by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter in summer 2016 to identify physical sites on the Oxford campus for contextualization in order to offer more history, to put the past into context and to do so without attempts to erase history, even difficult history. Through this committee, UM engaged in a deliberate process with an academic focus and broad community input with the fundamental underlying principle that, as an educational institution, we have a duty to understand and learn from history.”
University of Michigan
The Future University Community. “Exploring our aspirations for a diverse campus community — a topic that was covered by Justices Sotomayor and Baer during a January 30, 2017, colloquium – means also understanding challenges from U-M’s past.” The Future University Community featured some of these moments the week of April 3-8, 2017, with “Stumbling Blocks,” a series of pop-up art installations on the Central, Medical and North campuses. The exhibit was timed to coincide with the Bicentennial Spring Festival. These seven installations drew attention to various chapters from U-M’s history. The displays were prominent and provocative asking us to redefine our community, recalibrate our goals and set out new aspirations that are informed by the past. Each installation was accompanied by quotes from relevant community members. Learn more about Stumbling Blocks.