Women’s College in Georgia Confronts Its Racist Past

Wesleyan College, an educational institution for women in Macon, Georgia, has formerly acknowledged and apologized for its history and its ties to the Ku Klux Klan and slavery. The founder of the college was a slave owner.

In the early twentieth century one of every four undergraduate classes on campus was designated the Ku Klux Klan class. In the 1920s the class name was changed to Tri-Ks and later the Tri-K Pirates. This name for one of the four classes on campus continued into the 1990s.

The 1913 college year book was titled Ku Klux. The 1910 yearbook prominently showed a drawing of a woman in a Klan robe holding a burning cross. Hazing rituals which included women in robes and blackface and wearing nooses around their necks continued into the late 20th century.

The college recently released a statement that read in part: “Like almost any longstanding American, and especially southern, institution, our history includes parts that are deeply troubling, and we are not proud of them. When Wesleyan was founded in 1836, the economy of the South was based on the sin of slavery. Wesleyan’s people were products of a society steeped in racism, classism, and sexism. They did appalling things — like students treating some African Americans who worked on campus like mascots, or deciding to name one of their classes after the hate-espousing Ku Klux Klan, or developing rituals for initiating new students that today remind us of the Klan’s terrorism. We are sorry for the pain that parts of our past have caused and continue to cause.”

Today, Wesleyan College enrolls a diverse 700-member student body. African Americans make up about 24 percent of all students.

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