At the heart of the Colleges Partnering with Communities Project is the study and implementation of principles and techniques that challenge historically embedded archival and museum practices that, intentionally or not, have omitted the records of laboring people of color and thereby reinforced white supremacy. This approach holds unusual promise in settings — like those of our colleges — where the records of the labor and community life of such people often have been excluded from collections that document the institutions’ histories. As a result, the stories we have told about our colleges and universities and the communities in which they are embedded often are incomplete and, worse, misleading and unjust. They reinforce race and class hierarchies and priorities by rendering the contributions and experiences of working-class people and people of color invisible.

In the near term, this project seeks to work with those communities to make the lives and experiences of those who lived in them not only visible but also meaningful contributors in the histories that are told about our individual institutions and higher education in the South as a whole. In the long term, we aim to make this website a resource of ideas and practical guides for faculty and students who are at other colleges and wish to pursue similar projects in their communities.

The Colleges Partnering with Communities Project is an initiative of the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation at the University of the South. It is made possible by a “diversity and inclusion” grant from the Associated Colleges of the South, and by a Legacies of American Slavery grant from the Council of Independent Colleges in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University’s MacMillan Center. Furthermore, the CPC Project would not have gotten off the ground without the enthusiastic support of faculty, archivists, and students at the six participating colleges.