Students Protest Emory President’s Slavery Statements

Students and faculty members say it's part of a pattern of insensitivity toward minorities by the Emory administration

Emory University’s president, James W. Wagner, spoke Friday at a reception for an exhibition about the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and hundreds of students from his institution protested the event, the N. Y. Times reports

Wagner’s been attempting to do damage control after insinuating in a column he wrote for the university magazine that considering a black person only 3/5 of a person, also known as the “three-fifth’s compromise,” was a good thing in 1787 because it equalized Congressional power between the North and the South.

Wagner has since expressed regret for the remarks, but many at Emory think his gaffe was “yet one more example of insensitivity from the Emory administration toward minorities.”

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  • Rob

    The post by Makkada Selah indicates either a poor understanding of the country’s origin or a deliberate misrepresentation of Mr. Wagner’s statement. Nowhere in the Constitution was it stated that black Americans counted any less than anyone else. There were many free black Americans at the time of the signing of the Constitution, and their numbers were weighted exactly the same as anyone else’s, regardless of race. The debate at the time was how to count slaves for the purpose of establishing representation. Northerners, and slavery opponents did not want slaves to count at all, fearing that this would give too much representation to slave owners, proponents of slavery, and the southern states. Slave owners, and the southern states, obviously, wanted slaves to count as a regular citizen for the purpose of establishing representation. Keep in mind that slaves were not allowed to vote, so any representation their numbers warranted would have been controlled by those wanting to keep them enslaved.

    At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, slavery was a far more contentious issue than anything we discuss today, including that of abortion. The issue certainly trumped free contraception or gay marriage. I believe that Mr. Wagner was trying to express that in order to move on and “live to fight another day”, sometimes we all must swallow an intensely bitter pill. Had the Founders not reached such a compromise, there may not have been a Union, a Civil War, or an end to slavery.

    • EgyptianLover23

      The point is the “compromise” was racist because all of the “slaves” at the time were blacks. Whites were not allowed t be slaves. Yes there were some “free” blacks, and they may have been counted as ” a person” but their numbers were so small in comparison to the blacks in bondage that their count was insignificant. Additionally free blacks were in constant danger of being sold into slavery illegally, and did not enjoy the same rights as whites and therefore did not enjoy full “personhood.” It was a given that a black person during that time was a slave unless they could prove with “free papers” that they weren’t. Their “freedom” came with a lot of contingencies.