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Indiana University renames street for prominent Black family

The street sign at Jordan Avenue and 7th Street.

The IU Board of Trustees voted Friday to approve changing the name. (Joey Mendolia, WFIU/WTIU News)

Indiana University officials are renaming a street through the Bloomington campus after a Black family that rose to prominence after escaping slavery instead of a 19th century president of the school who supported eugenics.

The IU Board of Trustees voted Friday to approve changing the name of Jordan Avenue to Eagleson Avenue, matching a change that city officials are making for its section of the street.

Both university and city officials cite generations of the Eagleson family for making significant contributions to the city, university, state and nation, starting with Halson Vashon Eagleson Sr., who was born into slavery in 1851 and came to Bloomington in the 1880s.

His family included Preston Emmanuel Eagleson, the first African-American to earn a master’s degree from IU, and Frances Marshall Eagleson, who was the first Black woman to graduate from IU and became a teacher and administrator at North Carolina Central University.

The street initially was named for David Starr Jordan, an IU president in the late 1800s, but the university decided last year to remove his name from a classroom building, parking garage and campus creek after a committee concluded he held views that “conflicted fundamentally with the university’s values.”

Jordan was at the forefront of the American eugenics movement, which promoted forced sterilization legislation and influenced the racial theories that led to the Holocaust.

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