Columbia University to expose ties to slavery and racism

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Columbia University announced this week that it will be formally recognizing its ties to slavery and racism.

The NYC Ivy League said Tuesday (April 19) that historical markers will be added to four dorm buildings named after individuals who owned slaves and otherwise perpetuated racism against Black people to expose the college’s history and connection to the enslavement of Black people in America.

The historical markers are part of an initiative signed by President Lee Bollinger following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Professor Thai Jones has been instrumental in the initiative, teaching a course entitled “Columbia & Slavery” at the college, NBC News reported.

Among the residence halls receiving the plaques are John Jay Hall and Bard Hall, to acknowledge the fact that John Jay and Samuel Bard owned slaves while also holding close ties to the University.

Furnald Hall and Hartley Hall will also receive markers. In the early 1920s, Furnald Hall housed law student Frederick W. Wells, who made history as the first Black student to live on campus at Columbia. In 1924, the KKK burned a seven-foot cross in front of the residence while white students chanted racial slurs outside Wells’ door.

Hartley Hall was home to renowned Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes in the early 20th century and will commemorate the residence hall’s Black students who lived there.

Columbia is one of several institutions implementing historical markers on campus to acknowledge its connection to slavery. Rutgers University, Harvard Law School, the University of South Carolina and the University of Mississippi have all done so.

The plaques at Columbia are scheduled to go up in the fall, Jones told the outlet.

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