For the alumni who returned to College Hill for the fifth Black Alumni Reunion on October 27-29, the weekend-long event was more than just an opportunity to explore their old stomping grounds, reconnect with former classmates, and learn about new developments on campus. Nearly 1,200 attendees, including over 700 alumni, united across Brunonia for a shared mission: to collectively envision the future of the Black community at Brown.
This year's Reunion was centered around Afrofuturism themes of (re)claiming, (re)connecting, and (re)imagining. Through programming that drew on community and institutional knowledge, intergenerational connections, and experiences that spark “radical joy,” alumni were inspired to think about how to actively engage in the critical work that lies ahead.
“Now that we’re out [of Brown] and we’re all successful, we need to figure out how to parlay that success as a collective into something that makes more of a difference than what we do as individuals,” said Cedric Bright, M.D. ’85, after checking in at Maddock Alumni Center during the picture-perfect fall weekend.
A packed program featuring dozens of lectures, receptions, and social gatherings aimed to do just that, but the Reunion also fostered a greater sense of belonging within the community, says Eldridge Gilbert III ’05, alumni trustee and 2023 Black Alumni Reunion co-chair.
“We very purposefully created opportunities for alumni and current students to come together and build intergenerational relationships during the weekend,” he explained. “I think those intentional efforts really made all of the guests feel that they belonged at Brown and felt welcome to be back on College Hill.”
One such opportunity was a homecoming-style community luncheon on Pembroke Field, which brought alumni and students together around their affiliations with various varsity sports, student activities, and other affinity groups. “This allowed people to sit with folks who they shared a common experience or passion with—even if they didn't know each other,” said Gilbert, who is also the former president of the Inman Page Black Alumni Council (IPC).
Later that afternoon, more than 250 alumni and students gathered in Sayles Hall for “Moving from Social Capital to Community Capital.” The interactive event focused on building relationships while speakers discussed the value of community networks for advancing professional development and navigating career journeys.
Fostering community connection between alumni and students has been a central focus of the IPC. During a celebratory dinner on Saturday, Judy Sanford-Harris, Ph.D. ’74, P’14 received the IPC Black Legacy Award for her tireless efforts to diversify Brown’s student body through the IPC matriculation campaign.
“Judy’s service in re-imagining a world in which greater numbers of Black students enroll at Brown has impacted the lives of generations of Black alumni, and changed the course of history at Brown,” said Bernicestine McLeod Bailey ’68 LHD'23 hon., P'99, P'03, who praised Sanford-Harris for her years of leadership and service as an “intergenerational community connector.”
“Reconnecting with a myriad of brilliant Black and (shades of) brown alumni, friends, and faculty at Brown University’s Black Alumni Reunion was replenishing beyond my expectations.”
-Daphnée Saget Woodley ’00, via Instagram