Princeton to name 2 campus spaces for black Nobel laureates

AP News
Posted: Apr 18, 2017 6:15 PM

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Princeton University, among several U.S. colleges re-examining its complicated racial legacy, announced Tuesday it will name two campus spaces for black ex-faculty members, including Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.

Morrison's name will now grace West College, one of the oldest buildings on the Ivy League campus. The major auditorium inside the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs will be named for Sir Arthur Lewis, another Nobel laureate who pioneered research in economic development. The new names take effect July 1.

The decision comes a year after Princeton declined to remove Wilson's name from its public policy school in response to calls from black students that the ex-U.S. president was a segregationist. Students held a 32-hour sit-in inside the university president's office and also demanded changes to make Princeton more diverse and inclusive.

The episode led to a monthslong period of reflection on a fuller examination of the legacy of Wilson, Princeton's president from 1902 to 1910. University leaders concluded that while his accomplishments merited recognition, Wilson's faults must also be acknowledged.

Morrison was a member of Princeton's creative writing program until she retired in 2006, and her papers are part of the permanent library collection. Lewis served on the school's faculty from 1963 to 1983. He died in 1991.

In recent months, racially-motivated activism swept campuses across the country in the wake of protests at the University of Missouri in 2015. Since then, college leaders have moved to change mascots, building names, mottos and other symbols some have deemed offensive and outdated.

Also on Tuesday, Georgetown University hosted a ceremony in remembrance of enslaved blacks sold by Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to benefit the school. Georgetown also dedicated a campus building named for Isaac Hawkins, the first enslaved person listed in documents related to the sale.