Elon U Removes Name of a Former Leader Associated With a Lynching

Elon University has removed the name of a former university president associated with a lynching from a hall on campus after a petition demanding its removal gained more than 5,000 signatures, said an Elon News Network report.

Janice Ratliff, center, receiving the Elon Medallion in 2017.Janice Ratliff, center, receiving the Elon Medallion in 2017.

The university has taken off William Harper’s name from the Harper Residence Hall.

The report provided a link to an article published in the News & Observer on Aug. 25, 1920, which lays out  Harper’s role in the lynching of John Jeffress, a Black man who allegedly raped a 7-year-old girl. According to the article, Harper led a manhunt for Jeffress, who was later lynched before his case went to trial.

“If you aid in a murder but do not pull the trigger, that doesn’t make you any less of a murderer,” said the petition that called for the removal of Harper’s name.

Last week, Elon University renamed the Center for Leadership building for Janice Ratliff, a Black staff member and recipient of the Elon Medallion who served the university for 35 years.

“Ratliff was a mentor to generations of Black students, scores of whom remain connected with her as alumni,” the university said.