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Colleges And Universities Reconsider Symbols Tied To Racism And Slavery

Since massive student protests forced University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe to resign earlier this month, students on a number of campuses have staged protests of their own. One of their most consistent demands has been to identify and remove campus symbols tied to racism and slavery. At a handful of schools, protesters have won concessions.

For example, after students staged a 32-hour sit-in last week outside the Princeton University president's office, administrators agreed to consider renaming buildings dedicated to Woodrow Wilson, who was president of Princeton before being elected president of the United States. Wilson supported racial segregation.

Student demonstrations at Georgetown helped prod officials to rename two buildings that honored former Georgetown presidents who were slave owners. Amherst College appears to be rethinking the school's unofficial mascot Lord Jeff, based on Lord Jeffrey Amherst. The 18th century British military general reportedly proposed giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans.

Students at Harvard Law School have pushed the university to make changes to its official seal, which pays homage to Isaac Royall Jr., whose family made much of its fortune through the slave trade. Royall donated his estate to the law school.

Those calls engendered a backlash. Pieces of black tape were put over the pictures of some African-American professors at Harvard Law. Harvard University police are investigating the defacing of the portraits as a hate crime.

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