Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View &M University

The Texas A&M University System’s board of regents on Thursday approved plans to establish the Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice as a hub for learning, research and activism. The center seeks to address bias and injustice and work to facilitate fair treatment under the law for Blacks and other people of color.

The center will begin its work next year and offer support for scholarship and research on areas of injustice crucial for policymakers, educational programs on inclusivity and bias and leadership training. These offerings will be made available to students, lawmakers, organization and the general public.

Melanye Price, the PVAMU endowed political science professor, will serve as the center’s director. The center will implement a required course on the history of race, class and gender in the U.S. for all freshman and transfer PVAMU students.

The center also plans to actively invite visiting scholars from across the nation and around the world as part of a research fellowship program. Additionally, PVAMU’s newly approved center will have an “activist in residence” to educate students on the legacy of student-led political engagement .

In a written statement, Dr. Ruth Simmons, the PVAMU president for whom the center is named, said “encourage teaching and scholarship that contributes positively to overturning systemic biases that impede the ability of minorities and other groups to be accorded their full rights under the U.S. Constitution.”

Following the death of George Floyd, Simmons announced the planned formation of the center.

“When I first proposed the center, I was concerned about the state of race relations in the country and our community,” Simmons said. “Having grown up in a deeply segregated South and understanding the corrosive effects of these kinds of things, I really wanted to help both our students understand the history here and to learn how to manage through these difficult conversations that we’re having.”