A major American newspaper recently ran an op-ed by George Washington University senior Caleb Francois, a pre-law student, the premise of which was that the school’s 2021 renaming of a campus student center “falls short” of properly addressing the “systemic racism and inequality” he claims are still rampant on the school’s campus.
Francois then chronicles the 200-year history of racism at GWU. He bemoans the fact that, upon the university’s founding in 1821, only white men were permitted to enroll. (It would have been shocking if Blacks and women were allowed to enroll at that time.) He is similarly gob-smacked that Blacks currently comprise only about 10 percent of the school’s enrollment, though comprising 13 percent of the population nationally.
Francois averred that racial maladies could be remedied by a “decolonized university curriculum […] the renaming of the university and the selection of an African American President.”
Here is a portion of his op-ed:
“The controversial Winston Churchill Library must go. The university’s contentious colonial moniker must go. Even the university’s name, mascot and motto — ‘Hail Thee George Washington’— must be replaced. The hypocrisy of GW in not addressing these issues is an example of how Black voices and Black grievances go ignored and highlights the importance of strong Black leadership. Frederick Douglass, a statesmen, political scientist, diplomat, feminist and abolitionist, is a perfect example of a possible namesake to replace George Washington. His work for social reform and equal justice make him an ideal candidate for a new name. Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Malcom X, among many others, transformed the United States by fighting for the liberation of Black people here and all over the world. Heroes such as these should be celebrated and represented here at GW.”
Francois—and by extension the newspaper that published his op-ed—are behind the times, borderline reactionary. I called for the renaming of Washington, D.C. in a piece I wrote last summer. I also called for Madison, Wisconsin, Jefferson City, Missouri, and Columbus, Ohio to be renamed. Among other cities.
Francois noted the “hypocrisy of GW in not addressing these issues.” I mean, how could anything still be named after George Washington in 2022, right?
By-the-way, the newspaper that printed the indignant pre-law student’s op-ed? The Washington Post.
We can all assume the paper will soon change its name, then, right? But to what?
Malcolm X was wildly controversial, and deservedly so. And, his real name was Malcolm Little. Neither “The X Post” nor “The Little Post” sounds very impressive. Frederick Douglass was a great man, but he is out of the running by default, as his full name was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. How ironic is that? Sojourner Truth was no doubt a woman of character, but, as anyone who has read the soon to be erstwhile Washington Post in recent decades will have to admit, renaming it The Truth Post would be the epitome of fake news.
It seems likely the paper will wait until the city changes its name before it attempts to rebrand itself.
The Pelosi Post? Dear God, let’s hope not.