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Task Force on Slavery and Justice releases report for campus discussion

An image of Abraham Sims, a slave of the university's first president, James C. Furman, inspired the work of the Task Force on Slavery and Justice.

After more than a year of intensive study, the Furman University Task Force on Slavery and Justice released its findings today. The report includes a history of Furman’s early ties to slavery and makes a number of recommendations for the university to consider over the next several months before presenting the report to the Board of Trustees in October.

With the support of the board, president and provost, the task force was formed in the spring of 2017 to examine the university’s historical connections to slavery and to help Furman better understand and learn from its past. This is a step taken by many peer universities and, for Furman, is in line with the university’s principles as an academic institution that embraces liberal arts and sciences ideals, including a high regard for human value, reflection, innovation, and ceaseless accuracy.

The process has been guided by scholarship and undergraduate research in communication studies, history, sociology and sustainability, among others.

“I want to sincerely thank the task force members for their dedication and hard work in researching and putting together this detailed and thoughtful report,” Furman President Elizabeth Davis said. “The university will carefully review the report as a community and present it to the Board of Trustees for its consideration.”

The task force will discuss the report in several settings, including a faculty meeting and open campus forum in August and September. The board will discuss the report in October, and an announcement regarding next steps will follow that meeting.

Furman is a member of the Universities Studying Slavery consortium headquartered at the University of Virginia. The consortium consists of more than 40 colleges and universities from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Other participating schools in the consortium include, among others, Brown University, Clemson University, Davidson College, Georgetown University, the University of Georgia, the University of Richmond, Sewanee: The University of the South, the University of South Carolina, Wake Forest University and Washington & Lee University.

For more information, visit the Task Force on Slavery and Justice website. Comments or questions may be directed to slavery.justice@furman.edu.

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