Baylor University Takes Steps to Confront Its Past Ties to Slavery

The board of regents of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has decided to remove a statue of former president Rufus Burleson from the quadrangle that has borne his name. The space will now be known simply as The Quadrangle.

The historic bells on The Quadrangle — believed to have been used on slave-labor plantations before they were given to the university — will be relocated to the site of Baylor’s original campus at Independence.

The Commission on Historic Campus Representations at Baylor issued a report in December 2020 that found that all three of Baylor’s primary founders were slave owners, 11 of Baylor’s first 15 members of the board of trustees were slave owners, and Baylor’s first four presidents were slave owners.

Burleson was president of Baylor University from 1851 to 1861 in Independence and from 1886 to 1897 in Waco. He owned a least one slave. He was a colonel in the Confederate Army and served as a chaplain.

“Our goal at the outset of this process was not to erase Baylor’s history, but rather to tell the university’s complete story by taking an additive approach as we shine light on the past,” board President Mark Rountree said in a statement. “Some of the facts uncovered about the university’s history have indeed been painful, but it is important that we move forward together as the Baylor Family through an intentional process of reckoning, repentance, reconciliation, and redemption.”

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  1. DR RALPH STEELE says:

    Dear Board of regents. I strongly recommend that you not remove any statures from the campus because the statures are simply are part of history regardless of whether the presidents of chaplains were slave owners. We cannot change such history just like we cannot change the history of David the Psalmists, or Paul the murderer in the Bible, yet God used both of them. I highly recommend that Baylor formulate a commission on Reparations for people of African descent as Zacchaeus i the Bible said If i have taken anything from anyone I will restore it 4 folds meaning I will give it back at a value of 4 times in resititution or reparations. in Luke 19: chapter. I challenge Baylor to do just that and my challenge is not a challenge or blame or finger pointing its a matter of simply making right what was wrong and has implication today on African Americans who missed their inheritance and financial opportunies and more due to the 4 generational impact of slavery on then and now African discendants.

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