Alabama State to rename a residence hall that had honored a former governor -- a one-time KKK leader

CNN/October 20, 2020

By Mallika Kallingal and Rebekah Riess

Alabama State University (ASU) is the latest entity to remove the name of a controversial figure from its building.

The university removed the name of former Alabama governor Bibb Graves from a residence hall on Wednesday. Graves was propelled into political power in the 1920s through the support of the Ku Klux Klan, the university said. And the hall has been located on the ASU campus since 1928.

The removal of Gibb's name followed a unanimous vote by the ASU Board of Trustees to change the name of the residence hall that also houses a historic bell tower, the university said.

"I established a committee to research the names that are on our buildings to determine those who were closely associated with racist organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan," said ASU President Quinton T. Ross Jr. "Bibb Graves was a Klan leader at one point, so the decision was made to remove his name from the building."

The university said when the name was physically removed, it took two men "less than two minutes to make a change that many have waited to see for years."

Ross added that the process of selecting the appropriate name to be placed on the bell tower building will now begin.

"We will now begin the process of selecting the appropriate name to be placed on the Bell Tower building," Ross said.

"Many of our alumni have asked for this to happen. It was a topic of discussion as far back as my days as SGA president. I am proud that we are able to make this happen during my tenure as President of the University," he added.

A man walks past a toppled statue of Charles Linn, a city founder who was in the Confederate Navy, in Birmingham, Alabama on June 1, 2020.

The death of George Floyd in May led to the removal of contentious statues all over the United States this summer. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes. His death sparked widespread protests across the US.

Protesters brought down the statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, in Richmond, Virginia, according to CNN affiliate WRIC. A statue of politician John C. Calhoun was removed from its pedestal in Charleston, South Carolina, after the city council voted unanimously for its removal, according to CNN affiliate WCSC. And in Portsmouth, Virginia, protesters partially dismantled the town's Confederate monument. These were just some of the structures that were removed all over the country.

And now, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is pledging $250 million over the next five years to help "transform the way our country's histories are told in public spaces." The foundation's "Monuments Project" aims to build new monuments while contextualizing and relocating existing ones.

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