Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch is offering the first official apology for the school's participation in the institution of slavery.
Last year, confrontations over racial issues escalated at Wake Forest: racist email attacks, images of former students in blackface, and more. Tensions linger among students and faculty, and the university has responded. A commission on race, equity, and community was formed to join the ongoing efforts of the Slavery, Race and Memory Project.
At Thursday's Founder's Day Convocation, President Hatch publicly acknowledged past ownership of enslaved people by Wake's early founders, as well the sale of slaves that benefitted the institution financially.
“On behalf of Wake Forest University, I unequivocally apologize for participating in, and benefitting from the institution of slavery,” said President Hatch. “I apologize for the exploitation and use of enslaved people who helped create and build this university through no choice of their own.”
Hatch said addressing this part of the university's story will allow it to begin reckoning with the community it once was and shape the community it aspires to be.