Mellon “Just Futures” Project

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


This grant-funded project is a collaboration between Williams College, including Williams-Mystic, Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ), and Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum (MSM). Supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures Initiative, this initiative aims to tell a different, more complete story of New England and its global connections–past, present, and future–titled “Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom.”

One objective of this collaborative, interdisciplinary, public humanities project is to reshape the ways young people, communities, scholars, and college students understand the history and present-day of New England. Building upon generations of scholarship and community-led work, the project employs the sea as one lens to grapple with intertwined histories of Indigenous and African-American 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.

See below for further information and current projects.

  • The Williams College Just Futures team is made up of Christine DeLucia (Co-PI), Joy James (Co-PI), Tom Van Winkle (Williams-Mystic), and Michelle Dempsey (Research Associate/Project Coordinator). If you would like to contact the Just Futures team, please email [email protected]

  • The grant has funded the work of Williams faculty to create or re-create a course in line with the themes of the grant. The recipients are listed below: Margaux Kristjansson (Spring 2022) Laura Martin (Fall 2022) José Constantine (Fall 2022) Christina Simko (Fall 2022) Benjamin Twagira (Fall 2022) Please check back for further information on their courses.

  • The Just Futures team is currently preparing for an upcoming summer program in collaboration with Williams-Mystic for June of 2023. This program will revolve around experiential learning and community engagement. Please check back soon for further information.

  • Beyond these granted-funded opportunities, we are in the early stages of developing an additional yearlong initiative, which we hope furthers the broader project. Tentatively titled, Crafting More Just Futures amid the Legacies of Enslavement and Colonialism: a year of programming and curricular connections, we are keen to continue and broaden the work of the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), which in 2020-2021 has been charged with “comprehensively engaging with Williams’s histories with the goal of imagining and crafting practices of communally accountable institutional memory that reflects the complexity and diversity of the College’s histories.” We would like to place Williams’ efforts around reckoning and repair in conversation with broader regional and global projects that grapple with the legacies of colonialism and enslavement and craft more just futures. In conjunction with those efforts, in 2022-2023, we would like to pursue a year-long curricular, co-curricular, and programming initiative on the model of previous efforts, such as The Book Unbound or Confronting Climate Change. Please fill out this Google Form if you would like to be part of the steering committee for this initiative, or if you would like to suggest programming or activities for that year. Current members of the research cluster in consultation with staff at the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will contact interested parties as we move further along with this initiative.


$4.9 million grant project to interrogate legacy of colonialism, subjugation in New England

Williams-Mystic partners in $4.9 million grant to examine historical injustice in New England

$4.9 million grant will support project to interrogate legacy of colonialism, subjugation in New England