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Board: Georgia colleges will not change building names linked to White supremacy

Board: Georgia colleges will not change building names linked to White supremacy
UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication was one of 75 buildings and colleges recommended to have its name change as its namesake, journalist Henry W. Grady, promoted ideas of White supremacy. Photo courtesy of Ugastudent/Wikimedia Commons

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The board of regents for the University System of Georgia said it will not change the names of more than 70 of its buildings that bear those of figures who supported White supremacy, slavery and oppression.

The regents made their decision after reviewing the report from the Naming Advisory Group that recommended changing the names of 75 buildings and colleges to ensure "no building included on the system's campuses holds the name of someone who does not reflect the USG published standards."

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The group was formed in June of last year to study the appropriateness of the names on campus and college buildings, and made its recommendation from nearly 900 named for individuals, groups of individuals, companies or landmarks.

In a statement Monday, the regents said they are "grateful" for the group's work but they will not be adopting any of its recommendations.

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"The purpose of history is to instruct. History can teach us important lessons, lessons that if understood and applied make Georgia and its people stronger," the Board of Regents said. "The board, therefore, will not pursue name changes on USG buildings and colleges as recommended."

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The regents described the intent of the group as to better understand the names that mark its buildings while recognizing "there would likely be a number of individuals who engaged in behaviors or held beliefs that do not reflect or represent our values today."

"Understanding the history of names fulfills a knowledge mission that has guided USG for the past 90 years," they said.

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The decision was met with swift condemnation from groups that sought to have the names changed, including #RenameGrady, which petitioned for journalist Henry Grady's name to be removed from UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication over his espousal of White supremacy.

The group said the board's decision is not surprising and demonstrates to them "the board's support for racism and the upholding of White supremacy."

"This failure signals a willful ignorance of the history of people of color and a disregard for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of BIPOC students who have to walk the halls of these institutions every day," it said in a statement, referring to Black, Indigenous and people of color. "#RenameGrady condemns this hostile decision and urges the regents to reconsider."

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