Mercer University has joined Universities Studying Slavery (USS), a consortium of more than 70 institutions created and led by the University of Virginia to collaborate in sharing best practices and guiding principles about truth-telling projects addressing human bondage and racism in institutional histories.
All member schools commit to research, acknowledgment and atonement regarding institutional ties to the slave trade, to enslavement on campus or abroad, and to enduring racism in school history and practice.
USS hosts semi-annual meetings to allow participating institutions to work together to address both historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education and in university communities.
Members seek to address the complicated legacies of slavery in the modern world and develop ways for institutions to commit school resources to addressing equity in the 21st century.
“With 28% of the current student body identifying as African Americans, Mercer has done a remarkable job at recruiting and retaining students whose experience varies greatly from Mercer students of an earlier era,” said Dr. Douglas E. Thompson, professor of history and Southern studies and director of Mercer’s Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies. “We recognize that a fuller accounting of the University’s history will affirm for those students the University’s commitment to a better understanding of its past.”
The Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies will lead the work of examining the historical record to narrate with greater clarity the University’s engagement with slavery, while also drawing upon models established by student research projects in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Africana Studies and History departments.
Other Georgia institutions that are members of the consortium include the University of Georgia and Wesleyan College. Mercer joins fellow Southern Conference institutions Furman, The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute in USS.
About the Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies
The Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies fosters critical discussions about the many meanings of the South. As the only center for southern studies in the United States dedicated to the education and enrichment of undergraduate students, the Center’s primary purpose is to examine the region’s complex history and culture through courses, conversations and events that are open, honest and accessible.
About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialog and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit liberalarts.mercer.edu.