During remarks at Wake Forest University’s annual Founder’s Day celebration, Nathan O. Hatch, the president of the university in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, made an official apology for the educational institution’s ties to slavery.
In his remarks, President Hatch said that “I apologize for the exploitation and use of enslaved people – both those known and unknown – who helped create and build this university through no choice of their own. I apologize that our founders did not recognize and support the humanity and intrinsic value of those they enslaved. And I profoundly regret that subsequent generations of this University did not affirm the humanity of the enslaved individuals who made our existence possible.”
The university was founded on the grounds of an old plantation near Raleigh in 1834 before moving to its current location in 1956. In 1836, the estate of John Blount, which included land and enslaved Black people was donated to the school. In 1860, 14 enslaved humans were auctioned for a total of $10,718 that added to the university’s endowment.
Tim Pyatt, dean of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at the university, has stated that “we’re no longer on the original campus that was a plantation, but we wouldn’t be the institution we are now without the start we got in eastern North Carolina.”
Wake Forest University admitted its first Black student in 1962. Today, African Americans make up 6 percent of the undergraduate student body according to the latest data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans are 8 percent of this year’s entering class.