Rename University of Georgia buildings with a racist history

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Rename University of Georgia buildings with a racist history

This petition made change with 6,073 supporters!

Kamiru Ndirangu started this petition to University of Georgia and

UGA has a dark, often unrecognized history of enabling and profiting off of slavery. Slave labor was integral to the functionality of the early University of Georgia. Records show that UGA hired enslaved peoples to work as manual laborers by cleaning students’ rooms, providing meals, and constructing, repairing, and maintaining the very buildings on campus we learn in today. Many of these buildings that we enter each and every day are named after prominent racists, segregationists, and slave owners. Examples include senator Richard Russell of the Special Collections Library who led the opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, Mildred Rutherford of Rutherford Hall who was a vocal advocate for slavery and the “The Lost Cause Myth,” and Joseph LeConte of Leconte Hall who wrote that slavery was a natural condition due to the “inequality of the races.” 


From the poor handling of the remains found below Baldwin Hall, the destruction of historic Linnentown, and the poverty gap between this university and Clarke County, this University has profited off of the pain of the Black community all while continuing to serve a mostly white student population (with only 8% of students being Black). The painful irony of this situation is no secret, and students on this campus feel the remnants of this racial past every single day. Despite consistent criticism from the public, UGA has failed to fully address and atone for these institutional ties to slavery. President Jere Morehead and the UGA administration, it is time for tangible action to support your commitment to our three pillars: wisdom, justice, and moderation. It is time to stop ignoring your Black and minority students who repeatedly clarify the steps you need to take to make this campus a safer, more supportive home for us all.


As students of this university, we demand: 


 (1) a task force consisting of UGA faculty, administration, students, and the individuals from the Athens community be created with the purpose of reviewing the history of all UGA buildings and who they are named after as well as handling the bureaucratic process of renaming buildings after individuals who actually deserve that recognition


(2) a written confirmation from UGA’s administration that all buildings named after a confirmed racist, segregationist, or slave-owner will be renamed in a specified number of years


To quote President Morehead’s recent statement, “in the days ahead, let us move forward in seeking racial justice ….by demonstrating our ongoing commitment to do better while working together for a more united and just society.” As an institution, we cannot “move forward in seeking racial justice” and creating “a more united and just society” if we continue to recognize and remember white supremacists (such as Henry Grady, Joseph E. Brown, Allen Candler, etc.) who have stained this university and this state’s history. You owe this to your black students, faculty, administrators, and community members that love this University. We ask you to follow in the steps of many other higher education institutions who are renaming buildings in an attempt to atone for their racist pasts. This will not fix our past, but it is an important step in supporting the Black UGA community. Listen to your students and alumni, look to your peer institutions, and do not be on the wrong side of history for any longer. 

- Ahana Gaurav, JT Fagundes, Kamiru Ndirangu


Sources:

1) https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/midst-criticism-uga-begins-exploring-its-slave-history/aOPvDvUq2B4efDzhxHaxkI/
2) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/us/task-force-university-racism.html
3) http://molliesimon.com/rebranding/index.php/list/ and the work of Omicron Delta Kappa at UGA
4) https://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/uga-buildings-and-colleges-named-after-controversial-figures/article_f4d44bc4-ad19-11ea-a8a7-6b0c771b0a53.html?fbclid=IwAR2o3EZaXO2jkiL3AkacJQ7Q4_JmeA6tyMLyik_BabwvecoxxSlFO1BR2bY
5) Baldwin Hall history: https://www.redandblack.com/uganews/documentary-below-baldwin-digs-deeper-into-uga-athens-history-with-slavery/article_492588ca-5431-11e9-b55f-5f83963291bb.html
6) Linnentown: https://flagpole.com/news/comment/2020/02/12/yes-uga-linnentown-and-urban-renewal-were-about-white-supremacy/
7) Linnentown cont.: https://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/update-uga-responds-to-linnentown-resolution-pushed-by-activists/article_418c0662-3c06-11ea-b89b-67f10e0cfb17.html

8) UGA and Slavery's relationship: https://digihum.libs.uga.edu/exhibits/show/slavery/space

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This petition made change with 6,073 supporters!