The recent happenings at the University of Oklahoma and the SAE fiasco opened up a can of worms in some ways regarding the racist past of predominately white fraternities. An Emory University professor examines the link between bigotry, slavery and the roots America’s oldest colleges, revealing a shocking connection that adds fuel to the growing conversation on race relations.

Leslie M. Harris, an associate professor of History and African American Studies at Emory, wrote a long-form piece for academic and research news site, The Conversation US. In the essay, Professor Harris looks as the recent spat of snafus at schools such as Clemson Universtiy, North Carolina State University, and the University of Oklahoma.

Harris digs deeper by looking at the roots of Clemson University, which currently houses a hall named after Benjamin Tillman, an individual known for his racist practices. There is an effort at the school to have the hall renamed.

More from The Conversation US:

Tillman was not the only one. The University of North Carolina trustees are considering a request this week to rename Saunders Hall. The building was named in 1922 for William Saunders, a leader of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan.

Buildings named after participants in racial violence and songs celebrating the segregation as well as the lynching of black people are not merely offensive. They recall the violence used to maintain all-white institutions for much of this country’s history.

In fact, colleges and universities historically have supported hierarchies of race and other forms of difference from their founding in the colonial era through the civil rights struggles of the late-20th century.

Read the rest of Harris’ fascinating examination of the segregated past of America’s oldest colleges by clicking here.

Photo: InProb/CC By SA 3.0

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