South Carolina

Clemson faculty again call to rename Tillman Hall

A faculty panel and students have called for Clemson to rename Tillman Hall.
A faculty panel and students have called for Clemson to rename Tillman Hall. File, The (Columbia) State

Some of Clemson University’s faculty have renewed their call for the school to remove the name of a white supremacist and former governor from one of the campus’ best-known buildings.

The Faculty Senate posted two letters on its website saying renaming Tillman Hall would send a strong message that the university is against violent racists whether it’s the man accused of killing nine black churchgoers last month in Charleston or the namesake of the building, former Gov. Benjamin Tillman.

“The recent killings in Charleston dictate that we must make a clear statement that Clemson University is not the place for actions, or symbols, that support, even passively, bigotry and hatred,” one letter read.

The letters come after Gov. Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse after the shootings.

Clemson has resisted previous calls to rename Tillman Hall. Trustees did approve a resolution supporting the removal of the Confederate flag.

Tillman was a former governor and U.S. senator who rose to power in the late 1800s on a segregationist platform that advocated violence against blacks who weren’t willing to accept Jim Crow laws. He also helped found Clemson University.

Faculty members said a plaque in the building could honor Tillman’s contributions without being so offensive to others.

“The name on that building is not a reflection of heritage, it is a representation of hatred. We believe it is time to step up and commit to each other that we will maintain Clemson University as not only a high seminary of learning, but also ensure it is a beacon of moral and intellectual integrity,” one letter reads.

Red paint was splashed on a statue of Tillman at the Statehouse this week, and on Thursday someone wrote “violent racist” on a portrait of the former governor at Winthrop University’s own Tillman Hall.

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