Photo: Meghan Hudson/The tower of light
By: Gabriel Donahue, Associate Editor
Towson University announced Friday that the two residence halls once named after former slave owners, West Village 1 and 2, will become Harris and Barnes Halls next fall to honor the first black graduates of the University. university, Marvis E. Barnes and Myra A. Harris.
The announcement comes after USM’s board of directors voted on Friday to approve President Kim Schatzel’s request to change the names.
“I never imagined something like this would happen,” Harris said in a press release.
Barnes and Harris became TU’s first black graduates in 1959, shortly after the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision in 1954, which outlawed racial segregation in public schools, the university said.
“I am truly honored to recognize their lifetime of accomplishments with such a fitting tribute to Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris’ outstanding impact on the TU community,” Chairman Kim Schatzel said in the press release.
Echoing Schatzel, USM Chancellor Jay Perman called the women brave.
“We owe Mrs Barnes and Mrs Harris an enormous debt of gratitude – we everything making and naming these buildings for these women, an indelible part of TU history, is a great way to start paying,” Perman said.
West Village 1 will become Harris Hall and West Village 2, Barnes Hall, the University announced. The buildings will have an official ribbon-cutting ceremony during the fall semester of 2022.
The residences were originally named Carroll Hall and Paca House, after Maryland natives and slave owners William Paca and Charles Carroll.
The University began considering an official name change in June 2020 after pressure from the TU community and an official request from the Student Government Association, The tower of light reported.
USM granted TU permission to move forward with the name change process in June 2021 after the 10-person naming committee completed its review of the original names, The Baltimore Sun reported. The buildings were later stripped of their names and temporarily labeled West Village 1 and 2.
“I am grateful for the committee’s dedication to reaching a unanimous recommendation to the board, and I thank our regents for accepting this recommendation today,” said vice president of student affairs Vernon Hurte, who led the nominating committee. , said in the press release.
Correction: This article previously stated that West Village 2 was originally named after John Carroll. That’s wrong, it was Charles Carroll. The story has been updated to reflect the correct name.
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