Students Urge Wake Forest To Drop New Name For Building
Wake Forest University students are urging the North Carolina school to drop a new name that it chose for a campus building once named after a 19th century university president who enslaved people.
Wake Forest announced plans to rename the building formerly known as Wingate Hall as “May 7, 1860 Hall,” which refers to the date when the college sold 16 enslaved men, women and children at auction. The college created its first endowment with the $10,718 in proceeds from the slave auction.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that more than 1,000 users have signed an online petition that calls for the university to pick a different name.
The petition says Wake Forest shouldn’t memorialize the date when its fourth president, Washington Manly Wingate, allowed the slaves to be sold. Instead, the petition encourages Wake Forest to name the building after a Black person who is a notable graduate or a figure from Winston-Salem’s history.
“The administration is putting up a constant reminder of racial trauma for Black Wake Forest students as if being Black at Wake Forest isn’t already hard enough,” said Chloe Baker, a rising Wake Forest senior who started the petition.
The newspaper said Wake Forest’s media office didn't respond to a request for comment on the petition.
Washington Manly Wingate is also the namesake of Wingate University in Union County. The school's president said recently that he learned of Washington Manly Wingate's past from Wake Forest. The school held a campus discussion earlier this month to figure out what to do next.