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Towson U renaming dormitories for 1st Black graduates

The buildings were previously named for William Paca and Charles Carroll, elected officials and Declaration of Independence signers who enslaved hundreds of people.

TOWSON, Md. (AP) — Two Towson University dormitories that were once named for signers of the Declaration of Independence who enslaved hundreds are being renamed for the school’s first Black graduates.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents voted Friday in support of university President Kim Schatzel’s request to rename the dormitories for Marvis Barnes and Myra Harris, the university’s first Black students, who graduated in 1959 after segregation was outlawed, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Barnes Hall on the campus of Towson University. (Photo by Nick Sibol, Towson University)Marvis Barnes (seated) and Myra Harris, Class of 1959, were the first black students to attend Towson University. Campus dormitories now bear their names. (Photo courtesy of Towson University.)Harris Hall on the campus of Towson University. (Photo by Nick Sibol, Towson University)

The buildings were previously named for William Paca and Charles Carroll, elected officials and Declaration of Independence signers who enslaved hundreds of people. Their names were removed last year after years of pressure from students and the board of regents’ approval to rename buildings.

Towson University, which was called Maryland Normal School when it was founded in 1866, was racially segregated until the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Towson was then Maryland’s largest teachers college. Harris graduated with a degree in elementary education and Barnes graduated with a degree in secondary and middle school education. The University Naming Committee recommended naming the dormitories for Barnes and Harris to honor them as trailblazers and celebrate their successful careers.

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