Washington and Lee University Removes Slaveholder’s Name From Building

The board of trustees  of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, has recently announced that it will make changes to Robinson Hall and Lee Chapel after a student and faculty committee issued a report on how the university’s history is represented on campus. The committee was created after White supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Robinson Hall was originally named for a founder of the university, John Robinson. Upon his death, he left his estate, farm, and 73 slaves to the college. In 1836, the college sold the slaves and used the money to build Robinson Hall. The board decided to rename the building Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. He graduated from the university’s predecessor, Washington Academy, in 1799.

Additionally, the university will make changes to Lee Chapel. The university will replace the portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in military uniforms with new portraits of the two men in civilian clothing. Also, the doors to the statue chamber in Lee Chapel will be closed during university events. However, Lee Chapel will keep its name. Robert E. Lee is buried below the chapel.

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