Another college is committed to overcoming its racist past in exchange for a brighter future. Wesleyan College, a women’s school in Macon, Georgia, has changed the names of several of its classes ahead of the upcoming school year, which starts on August 13.
The school had held fast to a very hateful history: several class names were made up during an era when the institution welcomed the Ku Klux Klan and held initiation ceremonies that used nooses. With that painful past being laid bare, officials have approved a number of changes. Class designations the “Green Knights” and the “Purple Knights,” which are references to the KKK, have been changed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“We believe it was important we move away from the class names totally,” Wesleyan President Vivia Fowler said. “We want to create a better community for our students.”
Wesleyan opened its gates to enslaved men and women who provided labor during the school’s earliest days in the mid-1800s. The private, four-year liberal college did not start admitting African-American women until the 1960s during the civil rights era. It has taken more than a century for the school to arrive at the decision to change its class names and widen its curriculum to include the comprehensive history of African Americans on its campus.
The sluggish, but incremental, change is being met with some opposition, despite the fact that several in the college’s community have embraced the decision.
“It’s been a very emotional conversation for many,” Fowler said. “Some people have asked questions about why we’ve taken this action without having read the revised history. It’s not that they don’t want to accept it. It’s they truly don’t know.”
The school has much work to do to fully address its racist past. The institution of 700 students has roughly 25 percent African-American enrollment. Many Black students have reported feeling unsafe on college campuses in the wake of discrimination incidents in recent months, and Wesleyan must dedicate itself to working toward true inclusion.