Georgia University System Votes To Keep Names of Buildings With Ties To Slavery

Georgia’s public university system will not rename any of its buildings tied to racial segregation or slavery. They reason that “history can teach us important lessons.”

The Board of Regents for Georgia’s public university system wrote:

“The purpose of history is to instruct. History can teach us important lessons, lessons that if understood and applied to make Georgia and its people stronger.”

The board voted unanimously on Monday not to adopt any changes. This decision comes a year after the board established a committee to study names and potential changes. The committee initially suggested that 75 buildings that were named after Confederate leaders be changed.

The board stated, “Going forward, the Board is committed to naming actions that reflect the strength and energy of Georgia’s diversity.” 

In 2019, Georgia passed a law prohibiting state entities from changing buildings’ names that honor historical entities. Governor Brian Kemp supported the law.

Those who opposed the board called the decision racist. A group called Rename Grady issued the following statement:

“The decision by Georgia’s Board of Regents to keep the names of known racists, segregationists, and white supremacists of the state’s public colleges and universities is not surprising. It demonstrates to us the board’s support of racism and the upholding of white supremacy.”  

The riots of 2020, following the death of George Floyd, led to statues of Christopher Columbus and Junipero Serra being toppled. Several schools and universities established committees to determine whether or not names and statues were insensitive. They could be considered insensitive due to their connections to slavery, mistreatment of American Indians, or racial segregation.

Several universities across the country have changed names they deem offensive. Towson University changed the name of two dorms which were named after slaveholders. The Chicago public school system renamed 30 buildings that were named after slaveholders. 

The Atlanta school district renamed schools that honored Grady and Confederate Gov. Joseph E. Brown. Confederate statues were also removed in DeKalb and Henry counties. Athen-Clarke county also relocated a monument, citing needing room to build a larger crosswalk. The law allows a statue to be relocated so long as the new site is of equal prominence. 

Washington and Lee University followed Georgia’s lead and voted to keep the school’s name. The Lee references Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States Army.

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