Black Lives Matter attempts to purge colleges’ allegedly racist history

Black Lives Matter activists have been going after building names on college campuses throughout the South, such as Clemson University in South Carolina, the University of Georgia, and the University of North Carolina, to name a few. Now, colleges and universities across the United States seem to be lining up to rename their campus buildings to appease Black Lives Matter.

For example, Clemson University renamed its honors college, which was originally named after John C. Calhoun, a former U.S. senator during the 1800s. Calhoun was an avid defender of slavery in Congress. The honors college is now called the Clemson University Honors College. University trustees requested that the South Carolina legislature allows an exception for the university rename Tillman Hall. Its namesake, Benjamin Tillman, was a former South Carolina governor and had a history of white supremacy.

Another South Carolina-based school , Winthrop University, has a building that bears Tillman’s name. Activists had been pushing the university to change the building’s name since last year, but have renewed their calls as other universities are re-evaluating building names.

 Not to be outdone, the University of Georgia recently announced that it will form an “advisory group” to review names of buildings and colleges at all of its campuses, including its flagship university in Athens. For example, one of the flagship university’s journalism school is named after a white supremacist. Its Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication bears the name of Henry Grady and activists want to rename it after Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first black woman to attend the University of Georgia and who later had a career in journalism.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is considering renaming campus buildings and changing monuments after the university lifted a sixteen-year ban on the subject. The university was home to the Silent Sam statue, which memorialized the service of UNC students in the Confederate States of America army in the Civil War. The statue was vandalized multiple times and it was the site of several protests before protesters toppled it, after which it was removed to a different location.

Prominent Ivy League colleges such as Harvard and Princeton have recently incurred the wrath of Black Lives Matter ire. Princeton University removed former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its international affairs school and a residential college, citing Wilson’s history of pro-segregation policies for removing his name.

Harvard University is also under pressure from activists to remove the name of former university president and slave owner Increase Mather. At least one residential building and a courtyard are named after Mather. 

Ivy League higher education institutions were not the only ones insulated from Black Lives Matter’s push to rename buildings.

Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana is looking at any namesake of a former university president, David Starr Jordan.  Its biology building, Jordan Hall, bears Jordan’s name, since he was a zoology professor and the  university’s president during  the late 1800s. . Activists claimed that Hall supported the practice of eugenics and said that reason should merit a name change. There are other places on campus that are named after Jordan, such as Jordan River, Jordan Avenue, Jordan Parking Garage, along with  any potential scholarships, fellowships or awards that bear his name.

The University of Oregon’s board of trustees voted to remove the name Deady Hall, which was named after a prominent Oregonian, Matthew Deady. Deady was the president of Oregon’s constitutional convention in 1857, a federal judge and also the president of the university’s then-board of regents. However, Deady also “helped shape Oregon’s constitution that contained a clause prohibiting Black people from residing in Oregon” that remained in place until its repeal in 1927. A previous attempt to rename the building was quashed by the university in 2017, citing Deady’s defense as a federal judge when it came to Chinese immigrants facing persecution in Oregon. Until a new name is decided, the former Deady Hall will be temporarily named University Hall.

Also, the University of Oregon and its in-state rival, Oregon State University, discontinued the name of their athletic rivalry series as the “Civil War.”

The University of Texas at Austin said that it will keep the “Eyes of Texas” school song, but it will rename buildings that bear the names of Confederate figures. Some of the offending names are Littlefield Fountain, a statue of James Hogg (a segregationist and former Texas governor), the Belo Center, and the Robert Moore Building (named after a former math professor who refused to teach black students).

Marshall University, located in Huntington, West Virginia, removed the name of a former Confederate general named Albert Gallatin Jenkins from one of its buildings. Jenkins Hall will be temporarily renamed “Education Building” until a name is agreed on.

James Madison University announced it will remove the names of three of its buildings that honored Confederate figures: Jackson, Ashby, and Maury Halls. The buildings will be temporarily renamed until names are decided by the board.

Smaller universities were not immune to the wave of name changes of campus buildings.

The University of Maine is in the process of renaming a campus building for a former university president who supported eugenics and was a tobacco industry spokesperson. The Clarence Cook Little Hall is located at the university’s flagship campus in Orono, Maine and a task force will decide on its new name. Little was the president of the American Eugenics Society and served as the university’s sixth president from 1922-1925. He also was a University of Michigan university president, and his name was removed from a University of Michigan campus building in 2018.

Faculty at Washington and Lee University, which has been a source of ongoing protests over its namesake, voted to strike its namesake from its official name. The university is named after George Washington, a Founding Father, and former Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Over 79% of 260 faculty members voted to remove Lee’s name, but it is up to the board of trustees to determine the next steps. Forbes pointed out that 2.7% of the liberal arts university’s student body are black.

Western Carolina University, located southwest of Asheville, North Carolina, renamed its auditorium to University Auditorium because of its former namesake’s history. The auditorium used to bear the name Hoey, which was the last name for Clyde Hoey, a former Tar Heel State governor who opposed racial integration.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Queens University renamed an administration building because its former namesake, Reverend Robert Armistead Burwell, had “direct ties to slavery.” Further research discovered that Burwell and his wife Margaret owned slaves and records, “describing the Burwell couple’s direct and abhorrent actions as slaveholders.” The former Burwell Hall was built and named in 1914 and due to the name change, it will be called Queens Hall.

Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina removed the name of former U.S. senator Jesse Helms from its athletic facility. The Helms Center will now have the name Hawks Athletics Center, but it was originally built after a donor paid for half of the facility’s cost and asked for the facility to bear Helms’ name.

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