Clemson University’s board of trustees voted Friday to remove former Vice President John C. Calhoun’s name from the school’s honors college, according to NBC News. The decision comes after Clemson students signed a petition that garnered over 20,000 signatures supported by NFL standouts Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins.
What We Know:
- Clemson University’s campus currently sits on the plantation of John C. Calhoun, the former U.S. Vice President who described slavery as a “positive good” and owned 80 slaves himself.
- Following the death of George Floyd, which brought new life to discussions of racial inequality in America, Clemson students created a petition to change the name of the university honors college named after Calhoun.
- Trustees approved the students initiative Friday, voting to change the programs name to the “Clemson University Honors College” effective immediately and publicly requested permission from the state legislature to change the name of Tillman Hall back to its original name, the Main building. The facility currently honors Ben Tillman, the former governor and U.S. senator who used racism to dominate South Carolina politics following the Reconstruction era.
- Clemson University President Jim Clements described the move as a “powerful statement for inclusiveness” in a tweet Friday.
Our Board made a powerful statement for inclusiveness today by authorizing a change to our Honors College name and recommending the same for Tillman Hall. These actions are consistent with our values. This is a proud day for Clemson. https://t.co/EIO27vOBUk
— Jim Clements (@ClemsonPrez) June 12, 2020
- Clemson student Aamir Simms was instrumental in implementing the student body’s push for positive change. His personal relationship with President Clements allowed him to “communicate the voice of the unheard.”
“Today was an important day as Clemson stepped forward to show it cared about its students and more importantly the people of color,” Simms said. “A lot of people were involved in getting this done and I’m proud of what my university did today.”
- Other than removing the Confederate flag from the state House grounds, South Carolina lawmakers have refused to make major changes to Confederate monuments in the state which requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
“Clemson University has a long-celebrated history of tradition and excellence, but we must recognize there are central figures in Clemson’s history whose ideals, beliefs and actions do not represent the university’s core values of respect and diversity,” said Chairman Smyth McKissick in a statement.