Many of the United States’ oldest institutions are rooted in white supremacy and a select few are working to establish a more welcoming and inclusive foundation. To do just that, Yale University has renamed a college that was the namesake of John C. Calhoun, the former vice president to John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson and white supremacist.
Calhoun had a record of not only being pro-slavery, but even criticized the Declaration of Independence for its use of the language that “all men are created equal,” even though it’s clear most of the men who wrote it didn’t truly believe so, according to NPR.
After deciding a year ago to retain the name of Calhoun College, Yale overturned that decision and announced it would soon be named after esteemed computer scientist and Navy ream admiral Grace Murray Hopper.
When the Ivy League institution first announced that Calhoun College’s name would be unchanged a year ago, protests took place on campus against the decision. This helped change the minds of school officials.
“John C. Calhoun. White supremacist. Ardent defender of slavery as a positive good,” said President Peter Salovey. “Someone whose views hardened over the course of his life, died essentially criticizing the Declaration of Independence and its emphasis on all men being created equal.”
“We have a strong presumption against renaming buildings on this campus. … I have been concerned all along and remain concerned that we don’t do things that erase history. So renamings are going to be exceptional,” he added.
Of course, it’s impossible to hold racists accountable – even the ones who have been dead for more than 150 years – without someone complaining about changing history of “PC culture.” This time around, Geraldo Rivera stepped up to the plate by resigning from his volunteer position with Yale.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) February 12, 2017
If Rivera thinks the name change was “lame” (a term that is also insensitive and ableist), what does he think about forcing people of color to learn in, teach in and work in buildings named after people who thought they were less than human?