The president of Hollins University, a liberal arts educational institution for women in Roanoke, Virginia, removed online access to four of the university’s yearbooks. Those particular issues of the university’s yearbooks contain photos of students and faculty in blackface or have other racist imagery.
In a letter to the campus community, Hollins University President Pareena Lawrence stated that she removed the yearbooks from the online archive “in an effort to limit the damage and pain” that the racist pictures might cause. She also stated that she plans to restore access to the yearbooks once university officials develop “educational information regarding the history and practice of blackface to help all of us understand why it is a racist and a prejudicial practice.”
President Lawrence’s decision has been met with some backlash from people who don’t know why she chose the four specific yearbooks when there are at least 10 others that also contain photos some observers deem as racist. There are still hard copies of all Hollins yearbooks in the university’s library.
“In an effort to understand what might have occurred in the past, Hollins University has undertaken its own internal research,” President Lawrence wrote. “We must acknowledge how distressing such acts as ‘blackface’ or racial misappropriations can be, and we must do the reparative work to continue to heal our community.”