Roanoke College announces new center for studying structures of race

Local News

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke College is going all in on educating its students about race.

“Our students are very interested in learning about this,” said the director of the college’s Center for Studying Structures of Race, Dr. Jesse Bucher.

Bucher holds a bachelor’s degree in history from The College of New Jersey and received his PhD in African History at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He shared his thoughts on the recent protests that have taken place in the city and says he isn’t surprised.

“Minneapolis, like a lot of cities, is highly segregated,” Bucher said. “It has police forces that are often asked to maintain that segregation inequity.”

The center’s will be next to the campus’ Monterey Mansion. The mansion, itself, serves as a guest house for guests of Roanoke College, and the structure serving as the center’s facility was, at one point, former slave quarters, built by slaves more than 150 years ago.

“We feel fortunate that we had staff on campus that could interpret and contextualize the historic significance of that building,” explained Bucher very appreciatively.

Now, what once served as slave quarters will serve to educate students and allow the surrounding community to engage on issues related to race, from both a national perspective and also one directly related to the college’s history.

“I think reconciling with your past is an easy step to take. I think changing names on buildings, that’s an easy step to take,” Bucher said. “The real work is yet to come.”

Bucher, who wrote the proposal to create this center, is hopeful that a better educated student body can advocate for real change once they graduate.

The Associate Professor of History said, “If the courses that we can teach, if the event we can convene complete any small role in their development, I mean, the world’s the limit for them.”

One of the first things Bucher intends to do as director of this new center is commemorate the slaves who built the structure.

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