JMU to name new residence hall after former slave

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HARRISONBURG,Va.(WHSV) -- On Friday, James Madison's Board of Visitors voted to name the university's newest residence hall after Paul Jennings.

Paul Jennings served the Madison family in Virginia and in Washington D.C before James Madison's death.

Jennings was a former slave of James Madison who went on to earn his freedom and author the book, 'A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison.'

"Today was just a great moment to hear the board and hear the board talk about why this matters. You don't have those moments a lot of times in life," Dr.Tim Miller, Vice President for Student Affairs, said. "I honor the students whose brought this name up in the first place the staff and residence life who brought this up and then our board for really showing leadership that we need."

The university has had the idea of naming a building on campus after Jennings for years but didn't have the opportunity to do so.

A survey that was sent out to students last fall asking what the name of the building should be.

Dr. Miller said they received many submissions from students but Paul Jennings stood out to staff.

Paul Jennings Hall will open in fall of 2019 and be able to occupy 500 students.