The following message was emailed by President Hatch to students, faculty and staff on Feb. 20:
Dear Wake Forest community,
As you know, Wake Forest University continues efforts to examine its history and reconcile its implications for our present and our future. During Founders’ Day Convocation later this afternoon, I will acknowledge the University’s participation in the institution of slavery and offer an apology for how Wake Forest benefitted from the labor and sale of enslaved people. This moment will be another step in our efforts to confront our past.
In 2017, Wake Forest joined the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium to learn alongside other institutions of higher education how best to address historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality among our communities. Last May, in a moving moment of remembrance, faculty, staff and students read the names of enslaved individuals sold to benefit the University endowment in 1860. In July, I established the President’s Commission on Race, Equity and Community and affirmed the continuing efforts of the Slavery, Race and Memory Project. These working groups are part of a larger institutional effort to illuminate our history, address our present and reaffirm our commitments for the future. As a society, we continue to wrestle with racism and white supremacy. As an educational community, we must challenge these dual plagues head on.
Founders’ Day Convocation provides an opportunity to acknowledge our past and recognize individuals who model what we aspire to be. The infrastructure established by the Slavery, Race and Memory Project will empower us to take the action necessary for an apology to have meaning. In the next few months, Wake Forest will publish the first volume in a series of collected works that capture the scope of activity taking place. Project findings and eventual recommendations will help guide the actions we take to address past and present inequities in our community.
I look forward to seeing you at 4 p.m. in Wait Chapel for this important event. If you cannot attend in person, live streaming is available.
Nathan O. Hatch
This guest post was written and shared by news intern Caroline Wilson (’21):
Wake Forest University will host TEDxWakeForestU, an independently organized event licensed by TED, on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Wait Chapel.
‘Revision,’ the theme of Wake Forest’s TEDx event this year, poses the opportunity for our speakers to reflect on their past decisions and how they have impacted their future. The event is free for students, faculty and staff with a valid WFU ID. Tickets are $10 for the general public. Register here.
TechX will take place Feb. 25 between 12-3 p.m. in Room 401 of the Benson University Center. Drop by to see how your colleagues and other campus community members are using technology in a number of creative endeavors across our campus! Click here to mark your calendar!
Be sure to catch one or more of our keynote speakers:
The Canvas Experience
Brian Calhoun, Associate Professor, Education
Frank Whitworth, student, B.S. Computer Science, MESA minor
Laura Brewer, Manager, Learning Platforms, Academic Technology
Strategy Strikes Back – Utilizing a Podcast for Storytelling
Melissa Ringhisen, Military Science
Brianna Derr, Manager, Advanced Learning Projects, Academic Technology
Isn’t That The Old Student Health Building??
Steve Nedvidek, Adjunct Lecturer, Entrepreneurship
Paul Whitener, Assistant Director, Digital Fabrication & Maker Education, Academic Technology
Register to win a door prize and enjoy light refreshments. Check out the TechX web page for more information about the event and details about the keynote speakers!
On Feb. 23, 1960, a group of students from Winston-Salem State University were joined by students from Wake Forest University to protest segregated lunch counters in Winston-Salem.
The historic sit-in led to a desegregation agreement among local merchants in the city later that spring.
A community commemoration vigil will be held Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. in downtown Winston-Salem to mark the 60th anniversary of the sit-in. The event is free and open to the public.
The vigil will begin in front of the Millennium Center and process to the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets, where a historical marker designates the site as the location of the “First sit-in victory in North Carolina.” Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson and Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch will open the event and lead a Vigil of Remembrance. Wake Forest School of Divinity Dean Jonathan L. Walton will give a keynote address. The WSSU Singing Rams, led by D’walla Simmons-Burke, will perform.
More information is available here.
What can we learn from the past? Wake Forest University legal scholar and Associate Provost Kami Chavis explains, “If you want to have a transformative institutional change, you have to begin examining the past and the root causes of underlying issues to know what you need to do in the future.” Chavis is also co-chair of the Steering Committee of Wake Forest’s Slavery, Race and Memory Project.
The Slavery, Race and Memory Project evolved from Wake Forest’s collaboration with the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium (USS), which it joined in 2017. The Office of the Provost formally established the Project in the spring of 2019 to provide clear structure for both understanding the past and addressing inequities in our community going forward. A website for the Slavery, Race and Memory Project was launched in the summer of 2019.
The Project’s Steering Committee is in the process of making formal recommendations, which will be published later this year, but its influence can already be felt across conversations, events and activities taking place on campus this semester. The Project has co-sponsored several events that align with its vision statement, including scholarly speakers such as Vanderbilt University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies David Ikard, and a public conversation between alumni and current students. Through campus-wide engagement grants, students are also able to design their own programs and apply for funding.
“I think it is indeed courageous for an institution like Wake Forest University to undertake this type of work,” said Corey D.B. Walker, a visiting professor of leadership studies and the humanities at the University of Richmond and a former dean at Winston-Salem State University.
The Slavery, Race and Memory Project at Wake Forest is significant, Walker said, “because of the ways in which it involves the entire University community and raises new and profound questions about deeply held beliefs about the University and its core historical narrative.”
More information is available here.
Categories: Inside WFU