Rename Barnum Hall at Tufts University

Rename Barnum Hall at Tufts University

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Brian Felter started this petition to Tufts University and

P.T. Barnum’s life has been sensationalized and history portrays him as a clever entrepreneur and fanciful entertainer. However, his wealth and fame were built on the exploitation of Black, indigenous, and disabled people. His career began by purchasing Joice Heth, a Black woman whom he held in bondage and displayed as the former “nanny” (enslaved woman) of George Washington until her death in 1836. After which he had her autopsied and charged the public to view. He touted another man named William Henry Johnson of Connecticut as “Zip” and proclaimed he was the “missing link” from Africa. These are just two people of the numerous others that were used by Barnum to gain personal acclaim and this is to say nothing of his exploitation and abuse of various animals in his shows, including our own mascot. Barnum profited from American racism by exhibiting people of various races, ethnicities, and nationalities in cages to support white supremacist views of “civilization”.

P.T. Barnum was appointed to the Tufts Board of Trustees prior to its founding and made several donations to the future university, some of which was used for the construction of Barnum Hall (formerly the Barnum Museum of Natural History) in 1883. The building has served numerous purposes over the course of its history, most recently serving as the location of the Undergraduate Department of Biology before being transformed in 2019 to host numerous environmental organizations, which includes Tufts Institute for the Environment and the Environmental Studies program, the Film and Media Studies Program, art studios, and the Tisch College of Civic Life. However, it is unjust a center for civic engagement should be named after a man such as P.T. Barnum and therefore, we call on the Tufts Board of Trustees to rename the building to honor the legacy of a more fitting alumnus or member of the Tufts community. 


Tufts University directly benefited from the funds raised by Joice Heth’s suffering and from others and has never acknowledged or attempted to right this deep injustice. 


It is time for that to change. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!