Letter to the Editor: Rename GW’s student center after John Hope Franklin

Abdul Sheikhnureldin is a sophomore double majoring in computer science and political science.

I’m writing in response to the staff editorial, “Make the Marvin Center available for renaming” (Jan. 26, p. 4).

GW has not named a single building in Foggy Bottom after a black person. A little more unsettlingly, our student hub’s namesake was a racist.

There is no denying that Cloyd Heck Marvin fully supported one of the nation’s most deplorable and demoralizing practices right here on this campus: segregation. It’s the same system whose effects are still a visible scar on the lives of black Americans and the face of our country.

It is time to start healing these deep wounds and create a new legacy that embraces the values of diversity, acceptance and multiculturalism – not intolerance and blatant racism. And we can start right here with our own institution.

The University made a mistake in naming our student hub after a proponent of segregation, but it’s not too late to make reparations and replace one of our school’s most prominent, significant buildings with the name of a man we can be proud of.

The Marvin Center should be renamed after John Hope Franklin. Franklin, to whom GW awarded an honorary degree 15 years before his passing, remains one of the most prominent black figures in the field of history.

An author, historian, Howard University professor and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Franklin is not just an important black American, but an adherent to the values of lifelong learning and truth. Through his works, he displayed characteristics that we should all emulate.

He was devoted to freedom and equality, principles widely espoused by GW students, faculty and staff.

From the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, to the GW Ferguson Coalition, to our Multicultural Student Services Center’s Black History Month celebrations, we live on the most politically active campus in the United States. It’s not unrealistic to hope we can all play a role in this issue as well.

Individuals like Franklin are who this university should celebrate ­– not Cloyd Heck Marvin.

While we cannot change the past, we can certainly set the path for a future that is more representative of our values here at GW. We can begin this journey through the deconstruction of the memorialization of individuals who do not represent what we stand for today.

It is time we display these values through our actions. It is time to use our voices and our power to set an example.

It is time the Marvin Center is renamed.

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