U Washington students publish map to highlight school’s racist history

Students at the University of Washington created an interactive online map to highlight the school’s racist history.

Among other things, the map condemns a picture of George Washington, buildings named after explorers Lewis and Clark, and the establishment of the university as a catalyst for Washington’s statehood.

Students at the University of Washington created an interactive map to highlight the school’s racist history.

According to The Daily UW, the People’s History Group, which is part of a coalition called Divest and Demilitarize UW, and the Geography Graduate Student Association collaborated to make the project. Students can utilize the map to investigate a few dozen artifacts and monuments on campus that contain racist history.

Divest and Demilitarize UW states that it is “devoted to eliminating police violence as we collectively work towards an anti-racist, anti-colonial, and queer feminist campus.” The map project forwards these goals by providing students “with a historical and spatial guide that confronts the colonial and racist legacies” of the university.

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The first stop on the virtual campus tour is an image of Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Native American tribe, which marks a reminder that students are on lands stolen from the Duwamish people. The map then explains how settlers used the University of Washington as an “imperial outpost” to aid in the process of gaining statehood for Washington.

A later exhibit explains that Lewis and Clark Halls — named after the two famous American explorers — “are a testament to the militarized colonialism that made possible the construction of UW’s campus.” 

After the image of Chief Seattle, the map forwards to a 1968 letter from the University of Washington Black Student Union, explaining racist practices at the school. From this letter, the map’s creators explain how the university’s campus “retains both remnants of the university’s imperialist, white-settler founding and sites of resistance and resilience.” 

Then, the map shows viewers an image of the Black Student Union’s demands for the university’s divestment from the Seattle Police Department, scrawled in red and black graffiti. The map creators caption this image as a statement against the “white supremacist and militarized police forces” that ended the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others.

At another stop on the map, students decry a statue of “an idealized George Washington” on campus. The creators state that the depiction of Washington in military garb represents a “symbol of American imperialism.”

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Campus Reform reached out to the University of Washington, as well as Divest and Demilitarize UW, for comment.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft