University refuses name change after ties to slavery are discovered

Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina, declined requests to change its name after revelations that its namesake, Washington Manly Wingate, owned slaves.

“I would first like to clear up an assumption some have made since the news first broke: Wingate University is NOT considering a name change.” University President Rhett Brown said in a statement, saying instead it is “time to reclaim the Wingate name.”

The information regarding Washington Manly Wingate’s slave ownership came from Wake Forest University sociologist Joseph Soares, who informed the University that Wingate owned and sold sixteen slaves to fund Wake Forest university’s endowment during his tenure as president.

“It was found that ‘every president of Wake Forest until the Civil War had enslaved human beings under him.’ That includes Manly Wingate. Knowing that the stain of past transgressions can never be eliminated and that the debt to people of color can never be repaid, Wingate University officials do believe this deeply upsetting news can serve as an opportunity for reflection, reconciliation, and growth.” Wingate University said in a statement.

“It’s time to…reaffirm our position statement: To all students who strive to improve themselves and their communities, Wingate University is a laboratory of difference-making, where students’ desire to learn intersects with faculty expertise and with opportunities in our region, to serve the common good,” Brown said.

Brown has appointed a team of researchers to look into the history of Wingate and report their findings back to an advisory board. From there, the board will “recommend to our Board of Trustees ways to improve how we serve all students in an environment where each individual belongs and thrives.”

“I pledge to you that these recommendations will lead to meaningful action and long-standing, tangible change,” Brown promised.

Wake Forest University renamed its chapel on campus, which was named after Wingate to May 7, 1860, Hall. The date marking when sixteen slaves were sold to fund the endowment under Wingate.

“This truth hurts. It casts a shadow over our university, my alma mater, and is not in keeping with who we are today, what we value, and how we strive to be more inclusive for the students who study here and the people who work here,” Brown said.