Mellon “Just Futures” Project at Williams College

Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom

This grant-funded project is a collaboration between Williams College–including the Williams-Mystic Coastal and Ocean Studies Program–Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and Mystic Seaport Museum.  Supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures Initiative, this project aims to tell a different, more complete story of the Northeast and its global connections–past, present, and future.  

This initiative, titled “Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom,” launched in January 2021 and continues through Spring 2024.  As a collaborative, interdisciplinary public humanities project, it aims to reshape the ways young people, communities, scholars, and college students understand the history and present-day of the Northeast.  

Building upon generations of community-led work and scholarship, the project employs the sea as one lens to grapple with intertwined histories of Indigenous, African-American, and Afro-Indigenous experiences in the Northeast, and the closely related impacts of colonization and enslavement that have so deeply affected multiple communities.  Equally important, the project foregrounds the continuous work Black communities and sovereign Native nations have undertaken to maintain freedom, self-determination, and cultural thriving in this region.

This work is about the future.

We hope and expect that the initiative will be groundwork for continuing efforts at Williams that foster closer attention to urgent issues of social, racial, economic, and environmental justice in the twenty-first century.  As we engage with the past, in all of its complexities and contradictions, we do so in order to collaboratively devise more equitable and accountable pathways forward.  We pursue this work through deeper connections among students, faculty, staff, and communities.

Please browse our website for further information about current and forthcoming project work, and to learn more about our partners and collaborators.