On the morning of April 21, several signs advocating for the renaming of buildings associated with racist figures were removed from pathways in the Sunken Garden. At the time this article was written, it is unknown who made and put up the signs. The signs were likely removed by the College because they were not authorized to be displayed, according to information in a post on a popular Facebook group for students, “Overheard at William and Mary II: Electric Boogaloo.”
Several of the signs included racist quotes from individuals associated with the College, including the Tyler Family, who are memorialized on campus in the Tyler Family Garden located next to James Blair Hall. One of these quotes was from U.S. President John Tyler, an 1807 graduate of the College, which said “… the n***** is torn from Africa, a barbarian, ignorant, & idolatrous; he is restored, civilized, enlightened, and a Christian.”
Additionally, there were numerous other signs that discussed how many figures associated with the College were slave owners and had racist views. Some of these signs said “At least 1822 people were owned by W&M founders,” “Change the names,” and “Thomas Jefferson owned at least 600 people. James Monroe owned at least 250 people. Littleton Tazwell owned at least 100 people.”
These signs were removed the day before the start of the College’s April Board of Visitors meeting. This meeting is expected to discuss the renaming of buildings dedicated to racist figures associated with the college during its Committee on Administration, Buildings, and Grounds.
One of the signs also mentioned the BOV, reading “By prioritizing the legacies of long dead white supremacists the BOV is upholding white supremacy.” In the past, members of the BOV, including College Rector John Littel, have indicated that they do not wish to rename all of the buildings named for racist figures. The BOV’s response has caused students to organize protests at previous BOV meetings, and prompted the Naming and Renaming Referendum to be created by the Student Assembly, which showed overwhelming student support for renaming buildings.