Renovation of Churchill House, Rites and Reason Theatre to usher in new era for Africana studies

Kim J. Clark

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Since the early 1970s, Churchill Household on the Brown College campus has been a critical hub for scholarship and overall performance concentrated on the society, politics and background of the African diaspora. Fifty years later, a significant renovation to the developing claims to aid lots of far more a long time of boundary-breaking, assumed-provoking investigate and inventive operate.

In excess of the subsequent 15 months, Churchill Home — very long household to Brown’s Department of Africana Reports and its accompanying Rites and Purpose Theatre, one of the oldest continuously running Black theater corporations in the United States — will be expanded and retrofitted to make space for the department’s growing ranks of school and students and to guidance its flourishing theater firm.

The intestine renovation, which commenced this summer time and is expected to conclude in Fall 2023, will function a shiny, modern-day addition with new workplaces and a school library and lounge, expanded space for graduate pupils, an entrance and outdoor terrace available to persons with disabilities, and a refreshed George Houston Bass Undertaking Arts Place, the place Rites and Explanation Theatre has mounted dozens of unique productions. 

The prepare to renovate Churchill House and the theater are rooted in portion in the 2021 tips of Brown’s Undertaking Power on Anti-Black Racism. Noliwe Rooks, chair of Africana experiments, said the University’s support for the extensive renovations come at a pivotal time of growth for the department.

Three recent additions to the college — Kim Gallon, Renée Ater and Keisha Blain — are kickstarting thrilling new cross-disciplinary jobs on campus and igniting national discussions about women’s history, digital humanities and the legacies of racial slavery. And amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated systemic racial inequalities in the U.S., and the current police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so a lot of other Black Americans, interest in programs on race and inequality amongst Brown students has surged a lot more than 180 took Africana scientific tests classes in Spring 2022.

“This growth of Churchill House’s actual physical footprint is a reflection of our department’s growing mental footprint at Brown,” Rooks mentioned from the 3rd ground of Andrews House, where by division college, staff and graduate learners will be based for the duration of development in the 2022-23 educational year. “It’s created to not only fulfill our recent demands, but also make home for far more college, graduate pupils and undergraduates. It presents us the chance to believe about how we’d like to extend our scholarship and maximize our beneficial affect on the subject in the decades and many years to come.”

‘There’s a great deal happening inside’

Created in 1907, Churchill Dwelling was originally residence to the Rhode Island Women’s Club and was named soon after the organization’s founder, Elizabeth Kittredge Churchill. The College acquired the constructing in 1970, and two a long time afterwards, the University’s nascent Afro-American reports method moved in.

Due to the fact then, Afro-American reports at Brown — now called Africana scientific studies — has seen continuous expansion. After the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice advisable in 2006 that Brown “take measures to strengthen and grow the Section of Africana Studies,” the College brought a checking out committee to campus to present advice for path in future employing. As a consequence, because 2009, cultural icons these types of as the late Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe have come to Brown as college and traveling to fellows, enriching tutorial and cultural daily life on campus.

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