SEARCY. Ark. – Harding University is working to add monuments and names to their buildings honoring African Americans who made an impact on their campus. The university created a task force to recognize African American achievement.
The task force is made up of board members, students, faculty, alumni. It was kick-started by a petition to rename the Harding auditorium after Botham Jean that racked up more than 17,000 signatures.
African Americans have walked Harding University’s campus since 1963.
“There are so many contributions that have been made on this campus by African American alumni and staff and faculty,” Taskforce chair Greg Harris said.
In 2020, still no buildings or monuments bear any of those names.
“That’s something that’s been a bit of an oversight and Harding has admitted that,” Harris said.
Harris has coached soccer at Harding for more than 20 years. Now, he’s leading a new team filled with students, staff, alumni, and board members all working to make sure African Americans who had an impact at Harding are recognized.
“Whether it’s statues, whether it’s the naming of buildings, whether it’s the naming of programs to start to honor some of our African American heritage here at Harding University,” Harris said.
This task force has created a long list, from star athletes to first African American students.
“Elijah Anthony and Howard Wright who are two of our first alumni here on campus,” Harris said.
They are working to put names like those, past and present, on the front of buildings and etch them into the heart of campus.
“Botham Jean has been very important and is widely known and is an international name now because of what happened to him and we definitely want to honor him,” Harris said.
He said it’s not only for current students, but those who will eventually walk these halls as well.
“They will know that African Americans mean something here. In the words of Elijah Anthony they’ve not just been admitted here they’ve been accepted here,” Harris said.
Harris said they are already working to plan a statue garden with the first African American students, graduates, and staff. The task force will present all of their plans to the board of trustees next month.