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Williams Reads aims to foster new connections among students, staff, faculty, and community members by exploring diversity through a common reading experience. Developed by the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), Williams Reads is an initiative offered as an opportunity for us to explore a book together that will help us to celebrate and deepen our appreciation of diversity. It is the goal of the CDC to select a book that will stimulate community engagement and challenging conversation.

2021-2022 Book: Ebony & Ivy - by Craig Steven Wilder

Hard copies are available at Sawyer and Schow Libraries. E-Books are available using this link!

A groundbreaking exploration of the intertwined histories of slavery, racism, and higher education in America, from a leading African American historian.

A 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution's complex and contested involvement in slavery--setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country. But Brown's troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.

Many of America's revered colleges and universities--from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC--were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color. Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors. Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders. Significantly, as Wilder shows, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.

Ebony and Ivy is a powerful and propulsive study and the first of its kind, revealing a history of oppression behind the institutions usually considered the cradle of liberal politics.

Williams Reads Events

Williams’ Spaces, Places, and Names: A Williams Reads exhibit.
Pop-up exhibits located in Sawyer Library and Schow Library from January 18 until the end of February

Historian Panel

Event Recording

January 20, 2022, 12 - 1 p.m.

Lynn Rainville,Ph.D
Stefan Bradley, Ph.D.
David Varel, Ph.D

Moderator: Jacqueline Hidalgo

Zoom Link: Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 997 053 2797
Passcode: 2xnLmF


Alumni Panel

Event Recording

January 21, 2022, 12 - 1 p.m.

Tatiana M.F. Cruz,Ph.D
Aston Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Jallicia Jolly, Ph.D.

Moderator: Shivon Robinson, Ph.D

Zoom Link: Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 885 9483 2963
Passcode: 625618


Recent Williams Reads Books

2020-2021 Book: Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation- Edited by H. Melt

Subject to Change is an anthology celebrating the work of five poets who are unapologetically trans: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Christopher Soto, beyza ozer, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Kay Ulanday Barrett. Featuring poetry … Continue reading “2020-2021 Book: Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation- Edited by H. Melt”

2019-2020 Book: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Called a “breathtaking novel…[that] arrives at an urgent time” by NPR, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West is an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from … Continue reading “2019-2020 Book: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid”

2018-2019-Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

“MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her “fearless and toughly lyrical” voice in novels, memoir, … Continue reading “2018-2019-Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward”

2017-2018: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Williams Reads 2017-2018 Book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson “Bryan Stevenson is America’s young Nelson Mandela, a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all. Just … Continue reading “2017-2018: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson”