Scarlet and Black
The Scarlet and Black research project began with a deep dive into the historical connections between slavery and Rutgers University. From 2016 to 2021, Scarlet and Black published three books with Rutgers University Press, tracing the history of race at Rutgers over two centuries, from slavery to Black Lives Matter. These books examine the vestiges of racism and anti-Blackness that shaped the cities and towns across New Jersey from the colonial era to the present. They also documented the stories of African American students who worked to achieve scholarly excellence in a hostile environment and fought to bring about meaningful change, demanding that Rutgers live up to its promise of educational opportunity and public service for New Jersey’s diverse communities.
This 3-volume publication laid the cornerstone for the creation of the Scarlet and Black Research Center, which is now an arm of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers–New Brunswick.
I have been involved with Scarlet and Black since its inception in 2016, and I am now continuing to explore the legacy of African American student activism at Rutgers through the Black Camden Oral History Project.
As a Ph.D. candidate in history at Rutgers–New Brunswick, I co-authored two chapters of Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History. The chapter “Old Money: Rutgers University and the Political Economy of Slavery in New Jersey” explores how the university benefited from the slave economy since the colonial era. The chapter “His Name Was Will: Remembering Enslaved Individuals in Rutgers History” brings to light the stories of enslaved individuals whose unpaid labor built and financed the university.
In 2017–2018, I supervised and administered research on African American history as the inaugural Scarlet and Black Postdoctoral Associate. The research findings were published in the book Scarlet and Black, Volume 2: Constructing Race and Gender at Rutgers, 1865–1945, which I co-edited with Marisa J. Fuentes and Deborah Gray White (Rutgers University Press, 2020).
The project’s public history initiatives include the Scarlet and Black Digital Archive. This website illuminates the history of Rutgers University and slavery in New Jersey, the lives of free people of color in New Brunswick, and the experiences of black students at the university. I contributed a digital exhibit about Black Health in Early 19th-Century New Brunswick.
I encourage Rutgers–Camden students to check out the collection called Black Student Activism in Camden.