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Buildings at Virginia university renamed for Black women

August 7, 2021 GMT

ETTRICK, Va. (AP) — Four buildings at an historically Black university in Virginia named for white men with links to the Jim Crow era or to the Confederacy have been renamed for Black women.

Virginia State University announced the new names on Friday, five months after the original names were taken down, with replacement names considered by a committee.

“It wasn’t hard, and we didn’t have to look far to find women who embody our mission today,” Tonya Hall, VSU’s vice president of external relations, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Vawter Hall, originally named for a Confederate captain, was renamed for Lula Johnson, who is believed to be the first woman to graduate from a Virginia public college in the 1890s, from what is now VSU.

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Byrd Hall, a dorm named for former governor and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr., is now Otelia Howard Hall, honoring a school English teacher in the 1920s and ’30s. A statue of Byrd, a staunch segregationist, was removed from Capitol Square in Richmond last month.

The former Trinkle Hall is now named for Johnella Jackson, who wrote the music for VSU’s alma mater in the 1920s. Elbert Lee Trinkle was governor in the 1920s and signed a law that prohibited interracial marriage.

And Eggleston Hall, named for Joseph Eggleston, a board of visitors member in the early 20th century, is now named for Lucretia Campbell, the faculty’s first Black female member. Eggleston was a state schools superintendent.