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Citing a ‘legacy of racism,’ Emory begins process of renaming buildings

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Citing a ‘legacy of racism,’ Emory begins process of renaming buildings

Main Quad on Emory University's primary Druid Hills Campus. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta, GA — Emory University has begun the process of renaming buildings that are the namesake of people with problematic views on race.

University President Gregory Fenves in a Jan. 28 letter announced some of the changes that are in store.

“Last fall, Interim Provost Jan Love and I reconvened the Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations with a charge to help our university tell Emory’s story with specific attention to enslaved persons with ties to Emory and Indigenous peoples on whose land the campus was built,” he wrote. “In April, the Task Force released an executive summary of their findings and put forth a series of recommendations.”

Based on those recommendations, Fenves is implementing the following changes.

– Emory will develop plans for twin memorials for the Atlanta and Oxford campuses to honor the labor of enslaved individuals who helped build the university in its earliest days.

– Language Hall at Oxford College will be renamed in honor of Horace J. Johnson Jr.

“Judge Johnson was a widely respected jurist and Emory alumnus who made extraordinary contributions to the greater Atlanta and Newton County communities,” Fenves wrote. “He dedicated his life to public service, and his many achievements reflect the Emory mission to “create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.”

– The Longstreet-Means residence hall will be renamed Eagle Hall

“After reviewing the legacy of Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, president of Emory College from 1839 to 1848, the Committee recommended changing the name of the Longstreet-Means residence hall and the Augustus Baldwin Longstreet professorship in English,” Fenves wrote. “The Committee’s research shows that Longstreet used his platform as Emory’s president to promote pro-slavery views. He opposed abolition and strongly defended slavery and secession. It is inappropriate for his name to continue to be memorialized in a place of honor on our campus.”

Fenves said the process of renaming buildings won’t end there.

“The Committee recommended removing the names of Atticus Greene Haygood, L. Q. C. Lamar, George Foster Pierce, and Robert Yerkes from honorific placements on campus,” he wrote. “I will continue to review the research and seek consultation on these names.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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