Emory drops eugenics and slavery advocate names

Emory University is removing the names of two men linked to eugenics and slavery, removing them from a research center and two professorships, the university announced Thursday.

Emory will remove the name of Robert Yerkes, a proponent of eugenics, from a research facility currently known as the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Yerkes was the first director of the center, which from June 1 will be called the Emory National Primate Research Center.

The university will also rename two law school chairs named after L.Q.C. Lamar, whom the university has described as a “strong proponent of slavery.” Lamar—an Emory graduate who wrote Mississippi’s secession ordinance from the Union—served as a congressional representative and senator, a Confederate officer during the Civil War, and later a Supreme Court justice. These appointments will henceforth be known as the Emory School of Law Distinguished Professors.

The name changes were recommended by the University Honors Committee, which has reviewed Emory’s namesakes since 2020 and made a number of recommendations. the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Emory continues to review other possible name changes.

While the newspaper reported that Emory has no plans to drop the honorary titles of former Emory president Atticus Greene Haygood, a proponent of slavery, it plans to drop the name of George Foster Pierce, another former president who defended slavery, campus spaces.

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