Columbia University to Memorialize Its Historic Past of Slavery and Racism

PC: Columbia University

By Veronica Miller

NEW YORK CITY, NY – Columbia University is set to add historical markers to four of its residence halls this coming fall that the university claims will be used to acknowledge legacies of slavery and racism and to commemorate African American Students.

President Lee Bollinger, after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, started a university-wide project to help commemorate their African American students.

Slave owners and two U.S. founders John Jay and Samuel Bard, who had ties to Columbia University, will have markers placed at campus residence halls John Jay Hall and 50 Haven Avenue.

The third marker will be placed at Furnald Hall. This marker will tell the story of a 1924 morning where men in Ku Klux Klan robes burned a seven-foot-tall cross near this residence hall.

This residence hall at the time was home to the first Black student to live on campus, law student Frederick W. Wells, who experienced racist insults shouted at his door during the burning of the cross.

The last marker will be placed at Hartley Hall where a high percentage of students of color lived.

In an article by Josh Moody, he states that President Bollinger after the murder of George Floyd called on individuals to “seize the moment to embark on an honest and open self-evaluation to ensure that our values and actions are aligned with the realities and magnitude of the crisis.”

A Columbia spokesperson said this review includes ”inclusive public safety; addressing the impact of racism in the surrounding communities; student inclusion and belonging; faculty diversity; the staff experience; initiatives at our schools and institutes; and antiracism in health care at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.”

These markers are to be installed as digital monitors in the fall with the potential to become permanent plaques. Columbia will be joining Harvard Law School, Rutgers University, University of Mississippi and University of South Carolina in erecting plaques that acknowledge their past connections to slavery.

About The Author

Veronica is a senior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science Public Service. She is passionate about advocating for women's rights and plans on attending law school where she can continue to advocate.

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