UA to remove plaques that honor students who served in Confederate Army, possibly rename buildings

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The University of Alabama has announced that they will be removing three plaques that commemorate former students that served in the Confederate Army.

The decision was made by the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System and UA President Dr. Stuart Bell.

Officials say the plaques, originally located on and in front of the Gorgas Library, will now be moved to a “more appropriate historical setting.”

The Board of Trustees will also be looking into the possible renaming of buildings across the UA System campuses. A group of trustees will be selected to decide on any potential changes.

This comes following the removal of several Confederate monuments across the state.

Thousands of UA students have signed a petition hoping to rename buildings on campus whose namesakes have a racist history. 

Demarcus Joiner is part of the movement calling for change.  He is the UA SGA President.

“As a black man on campus, it’s hard to walk past a building named after a man who wanted you to be a slave for the rest of your life,” Joiner said. “It is time for change, it’s time for us to understand we shouldn’t have to walk past these buildings in fear. So that’s why we want to get these buildings changed.”

More than 17,000 students signed the petition and support this effort.  

Wendy Rawlings says it’s about time. She teaches English at Morgan Hall. John Morgan was a slave owner and a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

“It’s a symbolic move I think to a lot of people that don’t want to walk by statues and representations of people who have names on buildings who owned enslaved people,” Rawlings said. “And the fact that we are a college campus means that we should be doing some work to educate people about the past and to think differently about who we are going to celebrate and who we are not.”

In 2017, Rawlings helped to get John Morgan’s portrait removed from Morgan Hall. Some other buildings on campus on the hit list include Nott Hall and BB Comer Hall. Both men were slave owners in Alabama. 

Joiner says he is glad to be a part of this movement of change.

“We understand as far as SGA goes that we don’t want to erase history but we want to know that students know the history but we also don’t want students to feel scared or not feel that this campus is welcoming to them,” he said.

Board of Trustees President pro tem Ronald Gray has appointed a select group of Trustees including Judge John England, Jr., Barbara Humphrey, Vanessa Leonard, Harris Morrissette, Scott Phelps and Stan Starnes to review and study the names of buildings on all UA System campuses and report to the Board on any recommended changes.


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