By Angelia Pho
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Camden County College will change the name of Wilson Drive to North Alumni Drive and the name of Jefferson Drive to South Alumni Drive on the Blackwood campus. The college’s board of trustees approved the change, which was recommended by the Social Justice Policy Subcommittee, on Feb. 1.
The group stated in its recommendation that African Americans’ situation deteriorated during Woodrow Wilson‘s administration. By managing the segregation of federal government agencies, Wilson impeded African-American economic advancement. He implemented policies and federal laws that discriminated against African Americans.
Wilson Drive will be renamed by the institution during the 2020 convocation, according to College President Donald Borden. He established the Social Justice Policy Subcommittee, part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, to take on the renaming process. The subcommittee conducted a survey of the college community for input, which resulted in a variety of recommendations for how to rename the drive. They included renaming it for political figures, educational figures and college-associated figures.
“The renaming acknowledges our students who have committed their educational adventures to us and signifies the college’s continuous commitment to social justice.” The name substitutes the daily reminder of who we are and why we serve with a constant reminder of the injustice that was inflicted on a collective part of the public by Woodrow Wilson. Margo Venable, co-chair of the Social Justice Policy Subcommittee and executive dean of school, community, and workforce training programs, said, “It underlines our commitment to recognizing and appreciating each and every student regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or sexual orientation.”
To ensure the name is intentionally neutral and to receive support from current and former college community members, the subcommittee made the recommendation to rename Wilson Drive as North Alumni Drive and Jefferson Drive as South Alumni Drive, for it is a continuation of one road.
CCC student Ruby Anyanwu said of the decision, “I feel like this change should’ve been made much sooner. Wilson’s dark history as a president has been no secret. However, the efforts to change and right the past is refreshing.”
“The proposed North and South Alumni Drive is the loop with which the Class of 2021 conducted their victory lap in the midst of a pandemic in lieu of a typical commencement exercise and will eternally remain as magnificent memoriam of their accomplishment,” the panel wrote to Borden in an email. The purpose of Alumni Drive is to recognize alumni while also celebrating the CCC community and students as a whole and demonstrating the college’s commitment to social justice.
“This is not renaming for renaming sake. We want to make sure that people are educated about why this is important because everything that we are doing is deliberate – not an accident that we’re renaming Wilson Drive – we are doing it deliberately and want people to know why. So when we do the next thing and the next thing, we’re doing it as an educational opportunity for folks,” said Dr. Lovell Pugh-Bassett, co-chair of the Social Justice Policy Subcommittee and CCC Foundation executive director.
An unveiling event has been planned for the renaming of Wilson Drive and Jefferson Drive. Alumni, students, and staff, along with members of neighboring communities, will be invited. Activities such as a lecture based on the historical need for renaming will be offered. The lecture will be open to the public to participate.
The date for the unveiling has not been announced.