Colleges seek to confront legacy of racism


Wesleyan College’s intention to publicly recognize its historical ties to the Ku Klux Klan and slavery is part of a national movement among some colleges and universities to atone for the past.

Brown University in Providence, R.I., became the first college to acknowledge it links to slavery in 2003. In 2011, Emory University’s trustees acknowledged connections to slavery and expressed regret for “this undeniable wrong.” They also expressed regret for decades of delay in acknowledging slavery’s harmful legacy. Emory was founded in 1836 by Methodists in the town of Oxford, Georgia.

Just this year, the University of Georgia became embroiled in controversy when plans were unveiled to reinter the remains of what are believed to be former slaves unearthed during a building expansion on campus near the Old Athens Cemetery. Some black leaders and faculty in the college town disagreed with the university’s decision to move the graves and accused white school officials of not recognizing the past wrongs.

A group of two dozen colleges and universities calling itself Universities Studying Slavery are working together to study the history of slavery in higher education and the legacy of racism on campuses. The group includes the University of Virginia, University of South Carolina, Clemson University and Georgetown University.

Georgetown last September announced plans to reconcile with its slave history, including trying to atone for the sale of 272 slaves in 1838 that helped keep the struggling Catholic school from closing. In April, nearly 200 decedents of those slaves visited the Washington, D.C., campus for a ceremony recognizing the legacy.

“Part of the conflict that we’re having on campuses is a generation of students who are making us be honest about the the legacies of racism and racial inequality that actually helped to form our universities,” said Craig Steven Wilder, an MIT historian who has written a book about how slavery was embedded in shaping America’s oldest, most elite colleges.

Wilder said fewer schools have examined their ties to recent racism and the Klan.

“I think it gets a little too close to home,” he said. “If the subject of slavery on campuses is uncomfortable, imagine the discomfort that we have with the heavy presence, the constant presence of racist traditions well into the 20th century when many of us actually began our college and professional school careers.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Employee accused of reporting false shooting threat at GSP post
Employee accused of reporting false shooting threat at GSP post

Authorities said a Georgia State Patrol employee was arrested Thursday for falsely reporting that a man threatened to shoot her at a facility in Rome. Lisa Stewart said a man entered GSP Post 38 on Martha Berry Highway around 4 p.m. Wednesday and threatened to shoot her before leaving, Floyd County police said. The suspect was never found, and...
Some Fulton County homeowners to receive second assessment notice
Some Fulton County homeowners to receive second assessment notice

Some Fulton County property owners will receive a second assessment notice, after errors were discovered in the first. The problem affects about 300 homeowners, all of whom will receive a letter telling them to disregard their first notice. All notices posted online are correct. Jessica Corbitt, a spokesperson for the county, said the errors represent...
South and Southwest Georgia counties public swimming pool inspections for 2018
South and Southwest Georgia counties public swimming pool inspections for 2018

Want to know the track record of the pool you’re planning on taking the kids to this weekend? Search our repository of public swimming pool inspection data for counties near Columbus and Albany and elsewhere in south and southwestern Georgia.  The inspections in our dataset go back as far as 2012 and include inspections as recent as early...
Police charge 60-year-old with armed robbery of new Chick-fil-A 
Police charge 60-year-old with armed robbery of new Chick-fil-A 

Police arrested a man Thursday for allegedly robbing a new Chick-fil-A in northwest Atlanta on May 14, authorities said. Patrick Lamar Perry, 60, was caught in College Park by Atlanta police and charged in the armed robbery at 875 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a news release said.  Perry allegedly entered the location, pulled out a handgun and...
Savannah-area and coastal Georgia counties public swimming pool inspections for 2018
Savannah-area and coastal Georgia counties public swimming pool inspections for 2018

Want to know the track record of the pool you’re planning on taking the kids to this weekend? Search our repository of public swimming pool inspection data for counties near Savannah and along the Georgia coast: Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven. The inspections in our dataset go back as far...
More Stories