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Board of Governors approves renaming Rutgers facilities after slaves, alumni involved in U. history

In a continuation of the Scarlet and Black initiative, three Rutgers facilities will be renamed after Sojourner Truth, James Dickson and Will — a former slave who helped build Old Queens when the institution was first founded. – Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

NEWARK, N.J.— The Rutgers Board of Governors approved a series of name changes to various University facilities on Wednesday. They include renaming Kilmer Library as the James Dickson Carr Library, the apartments at The Yard @ College Ave as the Sojourner Truth Apartments and the Old Queens walkway as Will’s Way.

These proposals were among those listed during Scarlet and Black, the presentation which showcased the findings of the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations last year.

Among the committee’s findings was the fact that abolitionist and former slave Sojourner Truth was owned by former Rutgers President Jacob Hardenberg’s brother, and her parents were owned by his family.

The committee also found that at least one slave — known simply as Will — helped lay the foundations for the Old Queens administrative building on the College Avenue campus. Will’s name was discovered after members of the committee looked through his owner’s financial records, and saw that he was rented out to the contractor who built the facility.

James Dickson Carr was the first black man to graduate from Rutgers College in 1892, and later became the first black man to graduate with a law degree from Columbia University. The University already has a scholarship for minority students named after him, Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards said.

Edwards said it felt good to see many of the proposals from Scarlet and Black come to fruition.

“When I asked for proposals it wasn’t for the purpose of disregarding them, so this is a big step,” he said.

Several of the proposals presented in November have already happened, he said, including funding a post-doctoral student who will continue the research started by the committee, as well as a funding for several graduate students.

Rutgers has also dedicated some funding to the folk festival on campus for the next two years, he said.

“A number of things are happening,” Edwards said. “It just happens that these particular things require the Board (of Governors’) approval.”

The proposed markers are also in development, but still need to be finalized before they can be presented or unveiled, he said.

The facility name changes will be rolled out over the next month, depending on the weather, Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning and Operations Antonio Calcado said.

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