Davidson College Apologizes For Support Of Slavery, Announces First Steps Toward Greater Equity

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Davidson College, which was established in 1837, issued a public apology Wednesday for their support of slavery during the college’s first 30 years of existence and its embrace of racist laws and policies that followed.

The apology was announced on the college’s social media platforms, including on YouTube where a three minute-long video was shared with the title ‘Davidson College Apologizes for Role in Perpetuating Slavery, Systemic Racism’.

Davidson College President Carol E. Quillen made the following statement in the video message:

“We have much work to do to understand the pain and injury the college has caused as well as to appreciate fully the strength, gifts, and power of enslaved persons and our foundational indebtedness to them.”

The college’s apology came in light of the recommendations by Davidson’s Commission on Race and Slavery, which also included public commemoration of the contributions of enslaved persons on campus and review of the names of prominent spaces.

Davidson’s board of trustees unanimously supported the commission’s report and took full responsibility for the apology and a resulting action plan developed by the college.

“Davidson’s foundational values include a loyalty to all of humanity,” said Alison Hall Mauzé, chair of the college’s board of trustees. “Today we are holding ourselves accountable for not wholly living up to those values during a significant part of our history and are taking strong, first steps toward building the more just and humane community we strive to be.”

The commission released its report today in correlation with the college’s apology. The commission proposed positions, programs and funding to support:

  • Changing the name of the iconic Chambers Building at the center of campus.
  • Further research into, and public education about, the college’s history that is intertwined with slavery.
  • Transforming the campus culture to better understand racism and exclusion.
  • Creating and sustaining a clear line of communication with the Black community in the town of Davidson and the Smithville neighborhood and their long ties to the college.

The college’s leadership simultaneously announced the first steps toward acting on the report, a list of more than a dozen actions toward racial equity and justice, including:

  • A Board of Trustees committee to consider the naming of key buildings and a separate committee to guide the commemoration of the contributions of enslaved persons
  • Anti-racism training for all faculty, staff and students
  • Auditing admission, hiring and other practices through the lens of racial equity
  • Working with the Ada Jenkins Center, in Davidson, to expand the Freedom School summer reading and enrichment program for kindergarten through 8th grade by 2022
  • Hiring four tenure-track professors over the next four years who will be housed, in part or in whole, in Davidson’s Africana Studies Department

For More Information:

Click here for the commission’s full report.

Click here for more on Davidson College.