Boston-based reporter Philip Marcelo noticed a trend as he reported on accelerating efforts to pay reparations to Blacks and Indigenous Americans for injustices suffered over centuries: Some of the most strident arguments for amends were coming from U.S. college campuses.
Marcelo took a closer look and found that nearly a year after the killing of George Floyd sparked the latest national reckoning on racism, student and community activists from New England to the Deep South are demanding institutions take more ambitious steps to atone for past sins — from colonial-era slavery to more recent campus expansion projects that have pushed out entire communities of color.
Marcelo anchored the project from Providence, Rhode Island, home to Brown University. The Ivy League school released an exhaustive historical report in 2006 and followed it up with the dedication of a slavery memorial in 2014, among other efforts. An “Anti-Black Racism” task force is expected to deliver recommendations soon for how the school can further promote racial equity.
Marcelo’s reporting was powerfully illustrated with visuals from Boston video journalist Rodrique Ngowi and photographer Steven Senne, as well as work from photographers Jacquelyn Martin in Washington, John Bazemore in Atlanta and Steve Helber in Richmond, Virginia. The resulting AP package broke new ground on a competitive and fast-evolving national story.