Of the great things to be in 2022, a statue certainly isn’t one.
This is an example: Recently, in Raleigh, North Carolina, William Peace’s sculpted face was used to serve some social justice.
Evidently, it’s been a long time coming.
A group of men set out to create a school in 1857. William Peace, who was a founder member of First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh made the biggest donation.
Additionally, he donated 8 acres.
Peace Institute was thus born.
Due to the Civil War, the school didn’t open ’till 1872. The school was initially a primary school, for both boys and girls. It also served as a high-school to college preparatory school for women.
In 1930, it became Peace, a Junior College for Women — established as the second-oldest women’s college in North Carolina.
1943 saw the name changed to Peace College.
In 2012 it began accepting men and is now known as William Peace University.
But despite the institution’s pro-women pedigree, benefactor William Peace has been targeted for cancellation.
Last week’s statement from the school celebrated diversity:
William Peace University strives to be a university where diversity is respected, inclusion is encouraged, and respect is a daily part of everyday life. … [A]The 2020-21 academic year saw the creation of a task force to investigate key topics and determine if there are any parts of our past that don’t align with our institutional values. To move forward we had to understand the history of our institution, as well as where it might/may not be connected with racism, white supremacy, or slavery.
The task force determined that “areas of the school’s history are diametrically opposed to…current values.”
This public acknowledgement is made because we recognize that living today’s values requires us to face the harsh truths of our history.
The…most prominent, and enduring symbol of William Peace University is Main Building… …. Our research has revealed that the labor and skill that went into Main’s construction included that of enslaved people.
William Peace was the founder of our university. He owned enslaved persons. According to the 1860 census, he owned fifty-one slaves.
The force concluded William’s statue “could create a divisive environment on campus.”
With input from the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a vote was cast by the Board of Trustees.
William Peace considered William Peace to have a genuine piece and so his expulsion from campus was ordered.
After a school taskforce discovered historical links to racism and slavery, the William Peace statue was taken down Tuesday at William Peace University. https://t.co/EyTZq4P1Re
— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) March 23, 2022
Subsequently on the docket: a sad day and “listening sessions.”
To allow our community to think about these discoveries, the university will also remove the statue. Following this will be community input sessions and listening sessions with alumni, students, staff, faculty, and the Board of Trustees. These sessions will help us interpret and process the facts and hear what we can do to deal with our history and make it a better institution.
All that reflection would be led by third-party DEI firm The Diversity Movement, along with the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director.
William Peace’s plight is stunningly similar to that of another Bill — William Rice, for whom Houston’s Rice University was named.
Both Bills purportedly owned slaves, and in each instance, the college at issue footed the Bill — each man was kicked off his own property.
Oddly enough, neither the school nor its name has been changed.
So you can wear the guy’s brand all over yourself; you just can’t sculpt him to size.
To be fair, the future’s anyone’s guess at William Peace:
The results of these conversations will then be used to create a list of recommendations, which will then be shared with both the university leadership as well as our Board of Trustees. The next step will be decided by us.
Slavery is a stunning American shame, and it’s right for the country to condemn such egregious evil. As for methodology, we’re living in interesting times. The best I can tell, most everything that gets changed in the name of change doesn’t actually change anything — institutions are moving to move things because they find that moving; but in the end, the state of things remains the same.
Even though it’s not possible to know for certain, William Peace and his family will be happier knowing the monument no longer stands where it used to. I’m sure William Peace won’t care — he’s been dead for nearly 150 years.
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