School newspaper coverage of “Rat Week” from the mid-1950’s at Wesleyan College shows students with painted faces and nooses around their necks. Ku Klux Klan symbols and rituals became incorporated into the school’s social life in the early 20th century. COPY PHOTO

Ga. college linked to Klan rituals apologizes for ‘pain’ of its history

Acknowledging the ‘sin of slavery,’ a women’s college in Macon today apologized for the pain caused by racist rituals that became incorporated into the school’s social life.

“Our history includes parts that are deeply troubling, and we are not proud of them,” read the statement, which was posted on the college’s website today. “Wesleyan’s people were products of a society steeped in racism, classism, and sexism. They did appalling things — like students treating some African Americans who worked on campus like mascots, or deciding to name one of their classes after the hate-espousing Ku Klux Klan, or developing rituals for initiating new students that today remind us of the Klan’s terrorism.”

The statement comes as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today that Ku Klux Klan rituals became a part of student life in the early 20th century and continued for generations. Founded in 1836, Wesleyan is the oldest college chartered for women in the country.

In an interview with the AJC, outgoing Wesleyan President Ruth Knox acknowledged that the college should have taken action sooner. She and the school’s leadership have asked a faculty historian to prepare a detailed history of the school’s ties to slavery and adoption of Klan symbols and rituals.

Read the full story here.

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