A new historical marker on Rutgers–New Brunswick’s Livingston campus explains its namesake William Livingston’s deep involvement in slavery and his halting efforts to abolish slavery as New Jersey’s first governor.
In this virtual presentation, Robert Snyder LC’77, a professor emeritus of journalism and American studies at Rutgers–Newark, will talk with Jesse Bayker SGS’19, digital archivist for the Scarlet and Black Project at Rutgers–New Brunswick, who will discuss Livingston’s life.
Brooke A. Thomas, an African American history doctoral candidate at Rutgers–New Brunswick, will share the importance of Livingston College to Rutgers, why it was created, and how activism was one of its important contributions to Rutgers. Thomas is also a co-author of the chapter “We the People: Student Activism at Rutgers and Livingston College, 1960–1985” in Scarlet and Black, Volume 3.
Livingston College graduates Snyder and Debra O’Neal LC’87 will share their experiences of educational innovation and campus activism from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The discussion will end with a question-and-answer forum.
Dr. Michelle Stephens, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, sat down with Dr. Deborah Gray White, Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History, to talk about the research, legacy, and future of the Scarlet and Black Project.
On September 30, 2021, Scarlet and Black contributors shared their experience studying slavery at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of the 3-day symposium called In the Wake of Slavery and Dispossession: Emory, Racism, and the Journey towards Restorative Justice. This symposium highlighted the ongoing efforts and research in the areas of slavery, dispossession, and restorative justice, with a focus on the legacy of racism and its enduring effects at Emory University. The sessions included creative interpretations and dialogue, with a primary focus on the perspectives of Black, Native American, and Indigenous peoples.
You can learn more about the symposium and view videos from all sessions on the symposium website.
Watch the session recording:
Panel Discussion: Rutgers Experience in Studying Slavery and the Development of the Scarlet and Black Project
Jesse Bayker, Research Project Manager and Digital Archivist for the Scarlet and Black Project (moderator), Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Miya Carey, Assistant Professor of History, Binghamton University
Beatrice Adams, Assistant Professor of African American History, College of Wooster
Tracey Johnson, Scarlet and Black Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
The Scarlet and Black Project celebrated the release of our newest books from Rutgers University Press with a 2-day virtual symposium on April 29-30, 2021. Thank you to all of our speakers and attendees for participating in our celebration and making it a success!
All symposium sessions and President Jonathan Holloway’s keynote address were recorded and are now available on our website. View the videos here.
The New Jersey Historical Commission is pleased to present Exploring Black History in New Jersey: New Research and Discoveries, a webinar exploring projects that uncover and share African American history in the Garden State.
On October 26, 2017, Rutgers University–New Brunswick dedicated Will’s Way, the Sojourner Truth Apartments and the James Dickson Carr Library to honor an enslaved man, a renowned abolitionist and Rutgers’ first black graduate.
This article by Kristina Behr was featured in Rutgers Today on September 5, 2017.
College Avenue Apartments renamed as part of Rutgers’ “Scarlet and Black” initiative
It’s a day Rutgers University-New Brunswick students look forward to for months: college move-in day. But this year, those who are moving into the building at 40 College Avenue, a new apartment building which opened last fall, might notice something different: a name change.
Nearly 450 students are set to take up residency this year in a building formerly known as College Avenue Apartments – but now called the Sojourner Truth Apartments, honoring the African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist who died in 1881.
“I commend Rutgers for acknowledging something that may be hard to acknowledge, especially a part of history that’s very crucial and very important,” said Mariah Pierce, a senior at Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Across its five, interconnected campuses, Rutgers-New Brunswick operates one of the largest collegiate housing programs in the country, with approximately 16,200 students in on-campus housing. Approximately 36,000 more students live in off-campus apartments or commute from home.
The Sojourner Truth Apartments, housing only continuing and upper-class students, not far from Rutgers’ historic Old Queens building, was one of the first apartment buildings to open on campus for the new school year.
The building’s namesake, Sojourner Truth, was born into slavery. At one point, she and her parents were owned by relatives of Rutgers’ first president. Truth eventually escaped to freedom and worked heroically for the equal rights of all Americans. Best known for her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at a women’s convention in Ohio in 1851, Truth often spoke passionately about racial equality, and the message of her speeches still resonates today.
“It shows a dedication to the history that we have and moving forward. And I’ll always know that I have a meaning behind the building that I’m living in, rather than just being a beautiful new building,” said Azra Dees, a sophomore at the School of Arts and Sciences.
The Rutgers Board of Governors approved the naming of the landmark 440-bed apartment building as the university moves forward to enact recommendations by the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History – created to examine the institution’s ties to slavery and the displacement of Native Americans.
“We thought it was very appropriate that that name be on the College Avenue campus, because of the location of Old Queens, and the work that has been done there, being the symbolic place for the University,” said Felicia McGinty, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and member of the Committee.
“We’re very excited about creating a conversation and an opportunity for students to better understand our history, and our founding of the University,” she said.
As part of the same effort, the former Kilmer Library on Rutgers-New Brunswick’sLivingston Campus in Piscataway has been renamed the James Dickson Carr Library after Rutgers’ first African-American graduate. James Dickson Carr completed his degree in 1892, was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and went on to attend Columbia Law School.
The board also voted to name the walkway from Old Queens to the Voorhees Mall as Will’s Way, in honor of an enslaved man named Will – no last name for him is known – who laid the foundation of Rutgers’ iconic administration building in the fall of 1808 and whose story was brought out of the shadows in the committee’s book Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History.
Rutgers recently joined the consortium of Universities Studying Slavery, a group founded at the University of Virginia to address historical and contemporary issues of race and inequality in higher education and the legacy of slavery in modern America.
Rutgers-New Brunswick plans to hold a formal dedication for the Sojourner Truth Apartments, the James Dickson Carr Library and Will’s Way later this semester.
Watch an interview with Rutgers University–New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards about Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History. Chancellor Edwards talks with host Larry Mendte about the new book and the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Population in Rutgers History that is responsible for the research and ongoing work on this project.
The interview originally aired February 4th and 5th on “Another Thing with Larry Mendte” which airs Saturdays at 5:30pm/Sundays at 11:30am on WJLP Me-TV3 New Jersey/New York and Saturdays at 5:30pm/Sundays at 9:30am on KJWP Me-TV2 Wilmington/Philadelphia.
On November 18, 2016, the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History presented its findings to the university community at an event held at the College Avenue Student Center. The event was livestreamed by Rutgers iTV Studio, and you can view the recording below:
Message from Chancellor Edwards about the event:
A year ago, I wrote to all of you announcing that the university would embark on an exploration of its early history, specifically examining to what extent our early trustees and benefactors were involved in slavery, how Rutgers came to inhabit land that once belonged to local Native American tribes and how our institution may have benefited from these realities. To achieve a fuller understanding of this aspect of our early history, I created the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History, which has been chaired by Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History Deborah Gray White and composed of faculty, students and staff.
I am pleased to announce that Professor White and her committee have delivered on my charge and will present their findings in an event entitled “Scarlet and Black” that will take place on Friday, November 18 from 4 to 6 p.m., at the College Avenue Student Center Multipurpose Room. A reception will follow in the adjacent Fireside Lounge. Please register for the event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The committee’s work has been published by the Rutgers University Press in a book, Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History. The book is co-edited by Professor White and Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and History Marisa Fuentes, and major contributors include undergraduate and graduate students, as well as university faculty and staff. The work roughly spans the 100 years from the founding of Queen’s College in 1766 to the designation of Rutgers College as a Land-Grant institution in 1862.
It is my sincere hope that you will join me on Friday for this important event, one that continues our pursuit of knowledge and a fuller understanding of the university we hold so dear.
Richard L. Edwards, Chancellor Rutgers University–New Brunswick