William Peace University is a school founded in 1857 in Raleigh, North Carolina, but students and school officials never had an idea that the namesake of the university had ties to slavery up, that is until recently, according to CBS 17.
Now, the statue of William Peace, which once sat on a bench on campus, was recently removed after the University learned that he enslaved 51 people.
The story of William Peace’s slave connection was discovered by a task force, whose goal was to identify parts of the university’s history that are currently not consistent with the school’s values. The university president, Dr. Brian Ralph said, according to CBS 17, “Like most colleges and universities in the south, there are certainly going to be ties that are problematic for intuitions. We took a courageous step forward.”
More from CBS 17:
Some of the university’s earlier yearbooks also contain racist imagery and slurs. The 1946 edition was dedicated to Josephus Daniels. Daniels was a well-known racist and white supremacist.
A statue of Daniels was removed from downtown Raleigh’s Nash Square in 2020.
“It’s important for us to fully understand our past in order to move forward. And. so acknowledging a more complete picture of our past is essential for our students, faculty and staff to feel welcomed,” Ralph said.
As a result of this discovery, the university will now hold a series of three listening sessions to hear feedback from the university community on other changes they may want to see. Changing the name of the university entirely is not off the table, according to CBS 17.
The university held a Day of Acknowledgment on Thursday to give students and faculty time and space to reflect on the recent discoveries.