Transforming Community Project

This website opens the door to the narrative history, records, minutes, and public statements that constitute the legacy of Emory University’s Transforming Community Project, a distinctive effort to examine the role of race in the institution and the nation.

A series of racially charged incidents at Emory in 2003–04 led the university to sponsor an innovative program. Leslie Harris, then an associate professor of history and African American studies, and Catherine S. Manegold, then the James M. Cox Professor of Journalism, brought together a steering committee of faculty and staff members, students, administrators, and alumni to develop a forum to explore the history and experience of race and racism at Emory and elsewhere.

Formally launched in the fall of 2005, the Transforming Community Project became a key initiative in the university’s ten-year strategic plan. More than 2,000 persons participated in “community dialogues,” delving into a thought-provoking curriculum of readings, films, and reflection. The TCP also hosted many programs open to the university community, including lectures, workshops, and an annual event titled “Experiencing Race at Emory.”

The capstone event of TCP was the conference titled “Slavery and the University: History and Legacies.” Hosted by Emory in February 2011, this was the first national conference to focus on the impact of the African slave trade and slavery on the founding and growth of some of the most distinguished universities in the United States, including Emory. The conference tapped into the increasing sense of urgency with which universities have been exploring this complex history and its continuing impact on our campuses and our national society. Subsequent conferences at Harvard, the University of Virginia, Princeton, and elsewhere have built on the foundation laid by “Slavery and the University.”