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Buildings at Virginia State University renamed for Black women

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Posted at 9:20 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 22:56:55-04

ETTRICK, Va. -- Four buildings at an historically Black university in Virginia named for white men with links to the Jim Crow era or to the Confederacy have been renamed for Black women.

Virginia State University announced the new names on Friday, five months after the original names were taken down, with replacement names considered by a committee.

“As an Historically Black University, VSU has always set the tone of celebrating those who came before us to create the legacy that we have today,” VSU President Makola M. Abdullah said. “Unveiling names that celebrate and honor amazing Black women, especially those who have contributed to our VSU history in such an impactful way, shows that we proudly make space for and celebrate those up-and-coming trailblazers who have in the past, and will in the future, make Virginia State University their home.”

Vawter Hall, originally named for a Confederate captain, was renamed for Lula Johnson, who is believed to be the first woman to graduate from a Virginia public college in the 1890s, from what is now VSU.

Byrd Hall, a dorm named for former governor and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr., is now Otelia Howard Hall, honoring a school English teacher in the 1920s and ’30s. A statue of Byrd, a staunch segregationist, was removed from Capitol Square in Richmond last month.

The former Trinkle Hall is now named for Johnella Jackson, who wrote the music for VSU’s alma mater in the 1920s. Elbert Lee Trinkle was governor in the 1920s and signed a law that prohibited interracial marriage.

And Eggleston Hall, named for Joseph Eggleston, a board of visitors member in the early 20th century, is now named for Lucretia Campbell, the faculty’s first Black female member. Eggleston was a state schools superintendent.