Anthony Foxx to Lead Davidson College Commission on Race and Slavery

Anthony Foxx, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Mayor of Charlotte, will chair Davidson College's new Commission on Race and Slavery.

Foxx, a 1993 Davidson graduate and a member of the Board of Trustees, will lead the college's examination of how its own history is intertwined with the institution of slavery, the lives and work of enslaved persons, and conceptions of race that emerged from this history. Davidson President Carol Quillen described the Commission's work as even more urgent after recent national events cast a spotlight on hatred that runs squarely against Davidson's values and the nation's promise.

Foxx said he was honored to lead such a crucial effort for his alma mater.

"Davidson's mission includes cultivating humane instincts, recognizing the value and dignity of each person. As an initial matter, our mission will be to develop a process by which students, and all of us tied to this great college we love, can engage asking and answering questions and better comprehending the history of the institution and the community around it," Foxx said. "I am even more proud of Davidson College today than I have ever been—for having the courage to look in the mirror and attempt to understand itself through the prism of history."

Foxx will play a major role in selecting members of the Commission, building a panel that spans experiences and backgrounds and includes: students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Although this may increase the time needed to begin the work of the Commission, it will result in a collaborative, effective team. The college will announce the members of the Commission when they have all been selected. Foxx also will be engaged with faculty, staff and students in the development of curriculum and programs that further the commission's work.

"We are privileged to have Anthony Foxx chair the commission," Quillen said. "He is an exceptional leader who understands how to build inclusive, courageous communities whose honest assessment of the past and present paves the way for a more just and humane future. With his guidance, the Commission will establish a framework through which Davidson can, in an ongoing way, explore its past and be accountable to the present. I look forward to working with Anthony as we undertake this crucial initiative."

Quillen announced the Commission on Race and Slavery in September, and its work will continue and elevate the college's ongoing commitment to justice, equality and community. The Commission's charge is:

In keeping with Davidson's commitment to the quest for truth, the Commission will assist the college community in building a comprehensive understanding of the college's own history, which is intertwined with the institution and legacies of slavery and the lives of enslaved persons. The Commission will guide the development and launch of research projects and additional teaching and learning initiatives through which the Davidson community can investigate and acknowledge the college's history with slavery and race as well as its historical relationships with African American communities. This step follows Davidson College joining the consortium, Universities Studying Slavery (USS), in September. USS addresses issues of race and inequality in higher education and in university communities, as well as the legacies of slavery.

Media Coverage

Charlotte Observer: This renowned Davidson alum will help the college confront its ties to slavery

Jay Pfeifer




  • December 8, 2017