Ivy League institution Princeton University names two dormitories after Kwanza Jones (Princeton ’93), and José E. Feliciano (Princeton ’94). These are the first buildings to be named after a Black and Latino donor in Princeton’s 275-year history.
Princeton celebrated the dedication and ribbon cutting of the new dormitories on May 5th, 2023 in New Jersey. Friends and families from across the country gathered together to join in the dedication of the Kwanza Jones Hall and José E. Feliciano Hall.
These dormitories were built after Jones and Feliciano’s historic gift of $20 million to Princeton which was donated back in 2019. The donation was made to attract and support high-achieving students from all backgrounds and highlights the promise of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for the larger community.
“We see this gift as the color of commitment. It also demonstrates that people of color belong and we are at the table to help the university to continue to do the work of anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion,” said Jones.
It is worth noting that Jones and Feliciano’s time at Princeton was challenging. Before the $20 million donation, Jones had written an “Open Love Letter” about Woodrow Wilson’s legacy to Princeton’s President, Christopher Eisgruber, and Vice President for Advancement, Kevin Heaney. It addressed the racism faced by Blacks and people of color within Princeton. In the letter, Jones requested the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from the Residential College and the School of Public and International Affairs. Jones stated:
“One of the reasons José and I committed more than $20 million to Princeton was to demonstrate that underrepresented people of color, whether Black, Brown, or otherwise, that these people, our people… belong. Not that we belong solely as beneficiaries of a Princeton education and experience. But, instead, we belong, as patrons and co-creators of Princeton, and places like Princeton. And, that Princeton, our communities, our nation, and the world is made better because of us.”
During the dedication of the Kwanza Jones Hall and José E. Feliciano Hall, Eisgruber said, “Today we celebrate the power of possibilities. We celebrate the generosity and love of two very special members of the Princeton community. And we celebrate what it means to belong.”
The two dormitories are built in the same spot where Jones and Feliciano had their first date during their time at Princeton. “There is a bridge that connects the Kwanza Jones Hall to the José E. Feliciano Hall,” said Jones. “So, when we are talking about buildings and connections, it’s not just metaphorical, it’s literal.”
“This is the most iconic representation of the genius of American intellectual traditions contributing toward the expansion of a better world,” said Dr. Michael Eric Dyson (Princeton ’93). “Kwanza and José have done more than talk the talk. They have erected a building that is a lasting monument to the beautiful creativity of equity.”
At the event, Eisgruber presented to Jones and Feliciano a replica of the plaque that hangs inside the Kwanza Jones Hall and José E. Feliciano Hall as a gift. “We hope this will remind you always of our deep gratitude for your commitment to Princeton.”
The dedication of the Kwanza Jones Hall ended with Jones’ latest track playing as the audience moved towards the José E. Feliciano Hall. The song titled, “We Buildin’ (Reggaeton Mix)” celebrates the power of collective action and positive change, and pays tribute to the essence of building on your future, brick by brick.
“Thank you for showing what Princeton love can be, so that we can show up inside Princeton,” said Rahsaan Harris (Princeton ’95).
About Kwanza Jones and José E. Feliciano
Kwanza Jones and José E. Feliciano are life and business partners. In 2014, they founded the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano Initiative (Jones+Feliciano), a philanthropic grant-making and investment organization that strategically partners with nonprofits and for-profits to ensure maximum impact. Jones+Feliciano focuses on four pillars – education, entrepreneurship, equity, and empowerment – as providing access to capital in these areas leads to greater and more equitable advances and societal progress. Jones+Feliciano has committed more than $150 million to these efforts.
Kwanza Jones (Princeton ’93), is an artist, catalyst, speaker, and philanthropic leader. She is a leader as a board member and an advisor to numerous companies and nonprofits, including Apollo Theater, Susan G. Komen, UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, and Bennett College.
José E. Feliciano (Princeton ’94), is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Clearlake Capital. He is also a trustee of Stanford University and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino.