Posted on February 18, 2022

University of Alabama Removes Klan Leader’s Name From Building

Johnny Diaz, New York Times, February 11, 2022

The trustees of the University of Alabama on Friday reversed a decision to name a building after both a Ku Klux Klan leader and the first Black person to attend the school, instead voting to solely honor the student, Autherine Lucy Foster.

During a special meeting on Friday morning, 13 trustees unanimously voted to rename Lucy-Graves Hall for Ms. Foster, who became the first Black person to attend the school in 1956. The building will now be called Autherine Lucy Hall.

Friday’s vote amended a decision the university made on Feb. 3, when it said that a building named for David Bibb Graves, a former governor and Klan leader, would also carry the name of Ms. Foster. That decision drew an immediate backlash, as students and others criticized the school, accusing it of conflating their legacies.

The university said this week that its priority was to honor Ms. Foster, who “opened the door for students of all races” at the school. {snip}


The re-examination of the building’s name was part of an initiative that the university has undertaken to address its history of segregation. Over the last several years, institutions across the country have been re-examining the names of buildings associated with racism and slavery.

During the initial meeting this month, Mr. England said the trustees had wrestled with whether to retain the name of the former governor, a Democrat who served two terms, from 1927-31 and 1935-39.

In 1927, Mr. Graves championed a Klan candidate running to be the mayor of Montgomery, and a decade later he admitted that he had been a member of the group. He told The New York Times that when he became governor he “discontinued” associations with it.


After the university announced the building would have two names, students and organizers criticized the school. The student newspaper, The Crimson White, said the building should not bear the name of a person who endorsed white supremacy at any time. In an editorial, it said the decision was a “cowardly compromise that presents the illusion of forward momentum while clinging to a racist past.”

The former governor’s name has been removed from structures at other schools in the state {snip}