Clemson Tillman Hall controversy revived after Yale renames Calhoun College because of slavery ties
‘Your turn, Clemson University’
Today, Yale University announced that it will change the name of Calhoun College, named after John C. Calhoun, a supporter of slavery and Yale alumnus. The Yale board of trustees has voted to overturn their decision last year to keep the name. The college will be renamed after Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist who graduated from Yale in the 1930s.
According to NPR, Yale president Peter Salovey said, “We have a strong presumption against renaming buildings on this campus. … I have been concerned all along and remain concerned that we don’t do things that erase history. So renamings are going to be exceptional.”
In the wake of this announcement, members of the Clemson community are once again expressing their desire to rename Tillman Hall.
— Lisa M (@PhysicistLisa) February 12, 2017
— Jonathan B. Field (@ThatJBF) February 11, 2017
Former Clemson football player and offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers took to Twitter as well to express his frustration.
— Chris Hairston (@C_Hairston75) February 11, 2017
Back in February 2015, students and faculty members called the university to rename the prominent building on campus that’s named after Benjamin Tillman.
Tillman was one of the founding trustees of Clemson University, but he was also a slave owner and white supremacist. He served as governor of South Carolina for two terms and was later a U.S. Senator. Throughout his time in government office, he was an advocate for lynchings and keeping African Americans uneducated.
In 2015, Clemson board of trustees member David Wilkins released a statement explaining why the board had voted to keep the name of Tillman Hall. An excerpt from that statement reads as follows:
“Every great institution is built by imperfect craftsmen. Stone by stone they add to the foundation so that over many, many generations, we get a variety of stones. And so it is with Clemson. Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so. For that reason, we will not change the name of our historical buildings.
Part of knowledge is to know and understand history so you learn from it. Clemson is a strong, diverse university in which all of us can be proud. That is today’s and tomorrow’s reality and that is where all our energy is focused. To that end, the Board recognizes there is more work to be done.”
It seems like the topic that was put to rest in 2015 is now being revived by the public.