Wake Forest Apologizes for Slavery in University’s Past

University apologizes for past involvement in slavery.
Wake Forest students enjoy crisp fall weather as they walk across campus on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

Winston-Salem, N.C. Associated Press (AP) reported Wake Forest University president publicly issued an apology for the school’s past involvement in slavery.

What We Know:

  • The university’s president, Nathan Hatch, issued an apology during the school’s Founder’s Day ceremonies. A series of racially charged incidents had occurred at the university, stirring up racial tension on campus. The incidents included anonymous bigoted emails sent to faculty members.
  • AP reported that schools around the South, and many more are brainstorming solutions for the issue of past involvement with slavery.
  • Hatch said, “It is important and overdue that, on behalf of Wake Forest University, I unequivocally apologize for participating and benefiting from the institution of slavery.” He added, “I apologize for the exploitation and use of enslavement people – both those known and unknown – who helped create and build this university through no choice of their own.”
  • Students stood up during the president’s remarks in demonstration of those enslaved; including, the lasting effects it has on the students today.
  • Last year, the president held a committee meeting to look into the legacy of slavery on campus.
  • Furthermore, the president failed to notify the recent tension on campus involving the anonymous emails. The emails caused the head of the Sociology department to close the whole building and cancel classes for an entire week. 
  • Jonathan Walton, dean of the divinity school said, “We owe our very existence in part to the exploited lives of enslaved labor of people of African descent.” He also said, “Precious people whose humanity was sacrificed to prepare young, white Baptist men for ministry, Baptist young men whose conception of Christ supported America’s serpentine system of slavery.”
  • Finally, Sierra Deveaux, 19, a sophomore from New York, said, the speech resonated with her; but, she insisted the university back the apology with a plan.
  • “They need to put action to their words,” Deveaux said. “Through policy on this campus, more transparency on how they go about condemning acts of white supremacy on this campus and making it clear that they do not support white supremacy and making it clear through their actions that certain behaviors is not OK and that certain behaviors will have consequences, and actual, written-down consequences if this is to happen.”

Other universities are exploring the legacy of slavery. They are attempting to support students that are a reminder of the institution’s past involvement in slavery. One of those schools is the University of North Carolina Chapel-Hill

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Alldon Thompson was a Digital Intern at Black News Alerts.

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