The University of Buffalo is removing the names of three historical figures who supported slavery or espoused racist views from campus.
The university said it will remove the names Millard Fillmore, James O. Putnam and Peter B. Porter from four locations on campus, in “a decision that aligns with the university’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create a welcoming environment for all.”
Fillmore, a former U.S. President, was a founder and the first chancellor of the university. During his presidency, he supported the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which “remains a deeply hurtful decision, especially for African Americans,” the university said. Putnam, the fourth chancellor of the university, “held and openly expressed racist views.” A road on campus named after Putnam will be renamed Mary Talbert Way in honor of the Buffalo civil rights pioneer. Porter, a regent of the University of the State of New York, owned slaves.
“Clearly, historical namings on our campus—whether academic buildings, residential halls, interior spaces or thoroughfares—carry important symbolic value,” said university president Satish K. Tripathi, according to a statement. “We want to ensure that these symbols align with our mission—namely, that we are a diverse, inclusive scholarly community. As we consider some of these symbols, we have no intention of erasing our history. However, we can purposefully determine whom we want to honor in this way.”