Remove the racist names from American University's buildings and rooms

Remove the racist names from American University's buildings and rooms

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Bilal Aksoy started this petition to Sylvia Burwell and

Racism has always been a stain on our society, but as COVID-19 sweeps the nation, students are rising up alongside their fellow Americans to say that enough is enough. Our nation has seen major changes, including policy changes in government and in businesses, since the vicious murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other innocent Black people that sparked peaceful protests around the world. American University is not immune nor a stranger to racism. In fact, AU is far too familiar with racism — AU founder John Fletcher Hurst was a racist person who enslaved Black people. Hurst. Sound familiar?

In January 2019, the Working Group on the Influence of Slavery on American University, formed after The Eagle’s groundbreaking discovery of the university’s ties to slavery in early 2018, shared their findings on AU’s history and connection to slavery. They confirmed Hurst’s ties to slavery and his enslavement of Black people. This confirmation is now 18 months old, yet, the honoring of AU’s racist founder is ongoing with a building named after him.

This is why the AU community demands the renaming of Hurst Hall and all university buildings and rooms named after other known racists. These names are needless reminders of the evil that was done. It’s time that AU leads in changing the names of buildings named after racists and reconsider Founder’s Day, as it celebrates a racist person who enslaved Black people. In addition, AU should set up a scholarship for descendants of enslaved people, similar to Georgetown University.

In the words of Angela Davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”


This isn’t even sufficient for what needs to be done to address racism on our campus, but it’s only a small step and something that must be done.

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