A movement seeking to “cancel Yale” has gone viral on social media after it was revealed that the founder of the prestigious university, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner but also a slave trader. The viral movement comes as the United States faces a growing pressure to address examples of institutional racism following Black Lives Matter protests in honor of George Floyd.
The hashtag that spurred the discussion — #CancelYale — has received more than 50,000 tweets as of Saturday evening. Many of those tweeting about the subject have expressed their shock at the sordid history surrounding the school’s namesake.
— Stephan Fleet (@stephanfleet) June 20, 2020
However, a large number of the tweets using the hashtag came from right-wing accounts. Liberal critics have claimed that such social media users are not using the hashtag not out of genuine concern but rather as a political stunt. In fact, one of the original tweets that served as the catalyst for the hashtag was posted by Jesse Kelly, the host of a conservative talk show.
“Yale University was named for Elihu Yale. Not just a man who had slaves. An actual slave trader. I call on Yale to change it’s name immediately,” Kelly wrote in a tweet.
Back in 2017, Yale changed the name of the residential John C. Calhoun college after students raised objections over Calhoun’s slaveholding past and white supremacist views. However, an article in the Wall Street Journal noted that despite condemning its association with Calhoun, Yale did not address a number of other alumni with similar pasts.
“Calhoun owned slaves. But so did Timothy Dwight, Calhoun’s mentor at Yale, who has a college named in his honor. So did Benjamin Silliman, who also gives his name to a residential college, and whose mother was the largest slave owner in Fairfield County, Conn. So did Ezra Stiles, John Davenport and even Jonathan Edwards, all of whom have colleges named in their honor at Yale,” the article stated.
Some of the tweets who took the matter seriously pointed out that the college’s large endowment should be used to help pay for the tuition of students of color. Others demanded that the statue of Elihu Yale, which is positioned in the middle of the New Haven campus, be taken down.
Should the statue be removed, it would the latest in a long line of historical monuments either taken down with government approval or taken down by force during community protests. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, one such example is the statue of a Confederate General taken down by civilians in North Carolina. The protestors not only dismantled the statue but also hung pieces of his body on a lamp post.