Wingate University Pondering Next Move After Discovering School Named After Slaveholder
A special committee is being formed at Wingate University to consider next steps after it was discovered that the university is named after a slaveholder.
Wingate President Rhett Brown said in a statement that the Charlotte-area university investigated names around the campus in 2018 to see if anything was named after someone with “an egregious past.” During that investigation, nothing was uncovered to link Washington Manly Wingate to slavery.
Brown says he recently learned of Wingate’s past from the president of Wake Forest University. It was discovered when a Wake Forest sociology professor discovered that every president of Wake Forest up until the Civil War — including Washington Wingate — kept enslaved people. Wingate University was founded in 1896 as The Wingate School.
“This truth hurts,” Brown said in a statement. “It casts a shadow over our university, my alma mater, and is not in keeping with who we are today, what we value and how we strive to be more inclusive for the students who study here and the people who work here.”
A campus discussion is scheduled for Wednesday. A group including faculty, students and town officials will come up with a plan for what’s next.
“The Board of Trustees eagerly awaits the group’s recommendations on how to move forward,” said Wingate Board of Trustees Chair Joe Patterson. "... While we can’t erase history, we can learn from it."