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Princeton will name a residential college after a Black woman for the first time in history

The college will be named after Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People.

Princeton will name a residential college after a Black woman for the first time in history
Image Source: Getty Images/ Starbucks Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting. (Stephen Brashear)

For the first time in the prestigious educational institution's history, Princeton University will name an upcoming residential college after a Black woman. A statement from the school has revealed that Hobson College, named after Mellody Hobson, will be built on the site where Wilson College once stood. Hobson is the co-CEO and Ariel Investments and was named by TIME Magazine as one of their 100 Most Influential People. She herself graduated from the university in the year 1991. Hobson hopes that the renaming will show students of color henceforth attending the university that they too belong in this space, CNN reports.

 



 

 

"When I was approached last year about this opportunity, I was most compelled by the symbolism of a Black woman replacing the name of someone who would not have supported my admission three decades ago and what that would represent for future generations," she said in a video to Princeton. "My hope is that my name will remind future generations of students—especially those who are Black and brown and the 'firsts' in their families—that they, too, belong. Renaming Wilson College is my very personal way of letting them know that our past does not have to be our future."

 



 

 

Princeton's residential colleges provide housing and dining to students. This is the second time the college will be renamed. Its name was altered earlier this year to First College due to a decision by the university's Board of Trustees. While the college was originally named after former President Woodrow Wilson, the board believed his "racist thinking and policies" made him an "inappropriate namesake." For instance, Wilson called racial segregation a "benefit" and claimed that those who were enslaved "were happy and well-cared for." Even more egregiously, he refused to admit Black men to the school and even sought to exclude them from the school's history completely.

 



 

 

According to the university, Hobson and her foundation with filmmaker husband George Lucas the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, made the "lead gift" to develop the new building. Construction will only begin in 2023, and the building is scheduled to be complete in 2026. The renaming has come amidst a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement, which calls for racial justice in all walks of American life. Though the name change has been highly praised, Princeton University has otherwise been criticized for the lack of diversity in both its student body as well as its faculty. Unless the renaming is paired with other, more tangible efforts to further diversity and inclusion within the school, the move may be nothing but an empty marketing ploy.

 



 

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