Southern Change at Bama?

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When students or football fans return to the University of Alabama in the Fall, they will not see the Confederate monument that has long stood in front of the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library. As Stephanie Taylor reported in The Tuscaloosa News the University of Alabama Board of Trustees had the monument removed and appointed a group “to study the names of campus buildings named after slave owners and proponents of white supremacy.”

The University’s student newspaper The Crimson White posted information on Twitter about four buildings that were named for individuals who had racist histories–Morgan Hall, Nott Hall, Manley Hall and Bibb Graves Hall.

Bibb Graves for example was a former governor of Alabama, who according to Wikipedia, had strong political ties to the Klux Klux Klan. He was also an advocate for eugenic sterilization. The Tweet by The Crimson White listed him as the “Grand Cyclops of the Montgomery Klavern.”

Research of Hilary Green, Assistant Professor at the University in the Department of Gender and Race Studies, culminated in the “The Hallowed Grounds Project: Race, Slavery and Memory at the University of Alabama.” She has for years conducted campus tours featuring buildings such as Bibb Graves Hall.

After the monuments on campus were removed, Green Tweeted “Since Jan 2015, I have researched campus history of slavery and its legacy. Conducted an in person tour for over 4,800 individuals. Taught classes, lectured, and written about the work. I will remember today. #slaveryua

Touchdown Alabama‘s Patrick Dowd wrote, “Change is on the horizon in America, and men and women all across the country are standing up to try and rid the nation of hateful and offensive properties.

“One of the many from the University of Alabama is former safety Rashad Johnson, who took to Twitter on Monday urging his alma mater to remove a number of Confederate monuments and to rename buildings across the campus.”

Dowd quoted Johnson’s Tweet: “The time is now @UofAlabama!!!. We can’t honor these people or anything that stood with this movement, it’s over y’all lost and we don’t need any reminders of the pain we have endured til this day! We are living in a new day!!! A change will and is coming!!”

In a Franklin Stove blog “Built by Bama?” that was posted in 2018, a quote from former Alabama football player Landon Collins about a incident of racism on campus was included. He said, “I believe I speak on behalf of my brothers and myself when I say the Bama football team does not need the support, cheers or high fives of anyone who condones this type of intolerant, hateful behavior. #BuiltByBama”

In 2014 a there was a Franklin Stove blog about discrimination by University of Alabama Greeks. The post “Bama Sorority Wants To Stay Lily-white?” featured the lyric’s of Neil Young’s song “Southern Man.” A verse of the song is: “Southern change gonna come at last /Now your crosses are burning fast.” Young has recently been quoted in Rolling Stone magazine about his classic song. “It’s not just ‘Southern Man’ now. It’s everywhere across the USA. It’s time for real change.”

Perhaps change is finally in the air at the University of Alabama. Its newly elected Student Government Association (SGA) President Demarcus Joiner, as Al.com‘s Ben Flanagan reported, “called for the school to rename buildings on campus with ‘racist namesakes.'”

Under Joiner the SGA released a statement:

The University of Alabama Student Government Association joins our fellow students in their call to rename these buildings and urge a review of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, a state law banning local governments from renaming historical buildings.

The University’s head football coach Nick Saban made a definitive statement on racial justice in a letter that was sent to the media:

Al.com‘s Michael Casagrande’s article “Alabama football players speak out against racial injustice” quoted the reaction of former and current Alabama players to the murder of George Floyd. Offensive Lineman Chris Owns said “Change is coming from this generation whether you like it or not. Enough is enough.”

The tragic murder of George Floyd by the police in Milwaukee has resulted in consequences throughout the nation. Will the buildings that bear the names of notorious racists at the University of Alabama be renamed? Will serious steps be taken towards ending racial discrimination in the University’s Greek system? Those questions remain to be answered.

Perhaps Southern change will come at last?

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