Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Friends of the CSSJFounded in 2012, the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice (CSSJ) at Brown University will celebrate its 10 year anniversary in 2022 as a space on campus where students, scholars, and community members engage in powerful conversations about the history of slavery and its impact on race relations, freedom, and social justice today.

Since its inception, the Center has organized hundreds of public programs to examine issues of social justice and racial equality, including the impact of anti-black racism on our nation’s educational systems, racial segregation and its persistent structural legacies, and struggles against contemporary human trafficking. As part of its mission to examine the history and legacies of slavery in ways that engage a broad public, the CSSJ has built a global network of scholars, museums, and universities.  The Center has initiated joint projects with the Smithsonian Institution, and fostered relationships with high school educators across the nation. Through its research, exhibitions, convenings, and curriculum, the Center has become a leading institution for understanding how slavery’s legacy directly impacts all of our lives, yet is “hidden in plain sight.”

Former University president Dr. Ruth J. Simmons used those very words to describe Brown’s ties to slavery when she launched a bold and unprecedented study in 2003. That investigation uncovered the ways in which Brown benefited financially from slavery as well as the dominant role that Rhode Islanders played in the slave trade. The resulting, landmark Slavery & Justice Report led to the creation of the CSSJ in 2012.   The Second Edition of the Slavery & Justice report was released in November 2021.

We are expanding the Center’s network of supporters and encourage you to join the CSSJ Friends. Your engagement will help increase the visibility of the Center’s work, and provide funding for it to be sustained as a vibrant force for learning, discussion, and action.

CSSJ Friends receive:

  • CSSJ special reports and exhibition publications
  • Access to marquee events during Brown’s Family Weekend and Commencement
  • Invitations to Brown Alumni Club events spotlighting the Center’s scholarship
  • Opportunities to meet distinguished scholars, artists, and public historians visiting the Center

Inequalities set in motion by the Atlantic slave trade continue to profoundly shape our world and lives today. The CSSJ is working with scholars, museums and communities in America and globally to understand not only slavery’s historical weight, but also link it to ongoing social justice issues such as the impact of race upon medical care outcomes, human trafficking risks, inequalities within the criminal justice system, and food security gaps. Cultivating space and support for these challenging conversations has never been more critical than now.

If you are interested in learning more about how to join this vital group, please email

Support the CSSJ in its work to create a more informed public and a more equitable world

Our very best,

On behalf of the CSSJ Friends Steering Committee

Ann Coles '63 and Sean Siperstein '05
Co-Chairs, CSSJ Friends