Wesleyan College Ends the Use of Class Names That Once Had Ties to the KKK

In the early twentieth century one of every four undergraduate classes at Wesleyan College, an educational institution for women in Macon, Georgia, 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.

A year ago, the college apologized for its past ties to slavery and the Ku Klux Klan. Now the college has decided that class names will be retired for current and future students. Class colors of purple, green, red, and gold will continue to connect past, present, and future students. The college explained that “activities related to class names and traditions have fostered some of the campus’s racial tension in recent years. While the class structure served as a bonding tradition for many years, the same is not as true today.”

The college released a statement that read in part: “For Wesleyan to grow, we must embrace change. This is critical to Wesleyan’s future, and we are grateful for support from current and former students, faculty and staff, trustees, and other friends of the College for developing an exciting, ambitious new mission statement and strategic plan that will strengthen the College’s future. One element of the strategic plan is to create a new culture of community that embraces the diverse interests of our current students.”

Today, Wesleyan College enrolls about 600 students. African Americans make up 29 percent of the student body.

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