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University of Richmond removes building names linked to slavery

University of Richmond confirms evidence of slave burial site on campus
Posted at 11:40 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 11:40:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The University of Richmond has removed the names of people who supported slavery and racial segregation from six campus buildings.

Along with the unanimous board of trustees vote to strip the names, the private Virginia school announced Monday that it also adopted principles to guide future naming decisions.

Students and faculty at the university - located in the former capital of the Confederacy - protested last spring after the board said it wouldn’t change the names of two buildings that honored men with ties to white supremacy. The board later agreed to reconsider the matter, forming a committee to review naming issues that gathered input from more than 7,500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents.

Buildings named after Robert Ryland and Douglas Southall Freeman were at the center of last year’s controversy. The university says Ryland, who became the first president of Richmond College in 1841, enslaved more than two dozen people. Freeman, a newspaper editor who won Pulitzer Prizes for multi-volume biographies about Robert E. Lee and George Washington, supported segregation and opposed interracial marriage.

Ryland Hall is now the Humanities Building and Freeman Hall is now called Residence Hall No. 3. The names of four people who enslaved others in the 19th century were also taken off campus buildings: Sarah Brunet, Jeremiah Bell Jeter, Bennet Puryear and James Thomas Jr.

“As difficult as this process has been, underlying all of the comments and suggestions is a clear appreciation for the University and the transformative role it has played and continues to play in so many lives,” University President Kevin F. Hallock and the board of trustees said in a message to the community.

They said a plan will be developed to preserve a record related to these buildings and their previous namesakes so their history isn’t completely erased.

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