Wesleyan College’s incoming President Vivia Fowler personally apologized for the school’s racist past in a video shared via email with alumnae Monday, acknowledging that leaders have ignored the school’s disturbing history for too long and that “it’s time we admit and accept our failures.”
Fowler’s statement sharpens efforts to reconcile for the Macon women’s college’s historic links to the Ku Klux Klan and ties to slavery. The school issued an unsigned apology on its website last Thursday, the same day The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story online detailing this troubling history.
“For too long, Wesleyan has ignored this disturbing part of our institution’s past and it’s time we admit and accept our failures,” Fowler, who becomes president July 1, said in the video statement. “On behalf of Wesleyan College, I want to sincerely apologize for the pain that our past has previously caused and continues to cause. Moving forward, we need to do better, and we will do better.”
The AJC began investigating this history earlier this year after acquiring a copy of the school’s 1913 yearbook, titled “Ku Klux.”
The school for years identified with the Klan through class names and fomented extreme hazing rituals and traditions that carried forward into the late 20th century, often involving racist symbolism such as nooses, hooded costumes, blackface and figures hung in effigy.
Its class names in 1909, 1913 and 1917 were the Ku Klux Klan. These class names were carried forward every four years in various iterations into the 1990s, including the Tri-K’s and the Tri-K Pirates.
For more on this history go to myAJC.com to read the story.