His­tor­i­cally black school re­names dor­mi­tory hon­or­ing KKK leader

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - REGION -

BIRM­ING­HAM, Ala. — A his­tor­i­cally Black univer­sity in Alabama has re­named a dor­mi­tory that hon­ored a one-time gov­er­nor who also led a Ku Klux Klan chap­ter nearly a cen­tury ago.

Work­ers at Alabama State Univer­sity re­moved the name “Bibb Graves” from a res­i­dence hall on Wed­nes­day. The build­ing had car­ried Graves’ name since 1928, when he served as the head of a state gov­ern­ment that con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated white supremacy.

At least two other state schools also have re­named cam­pus build­ings that hon­ored Graves, who was known as a proe­d­u­ca­tion, pro­gres­sive gov­er­nor de­spite lead­ing a KKK chap­ter in the cap­i­tal city. Klan mem­ber­ship was so large at the time that politi­cians used con­nec­tions in the racist ter­ror group to win votes.

Alabama State Pres­i­dent Quin­ton T. Ross Jr. said the idea of re­plac­ing the build­ing’s name had been dis­cussed at least as far back as when he was a stu­dent at the school, lo­cated a few miles from the Alabama Capi­tol.

“Many of our alumni have asked for this to hap­pen,” he said in a state­ment.

Alabama State trus­tees voted to re­name the build­ing ear­lier this year dur­ing the na­tional dis­cus­sion gen­er­ated by the po­lice killing of Ge­orge Floyd in Min­neapo­lis. The school has yet to de­cide on a new name for the res­i­dence hall.

Troy Univer­sity has re­named its Bibb Graves Hall for the late Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon who grew up near cam­pus and died ear­lier this year. The Univer­sity of Mon­te­vallo, near Birm­ing­ham, voted to re­name build­ings hon­or­ing Graves and Brax­ton Bragg Comer, who worked to main­tain rem­nants of the old plan­ta­tion sys­tem as gov­er­nor.

Graves served two fouryear terms as gov­er­nor be­gin­ning in 1927 and 1935. He re­signed from the Klan and de­nounced its vi­o­lence in the late 1920s, ac­cord­ing to the En­cy­clo­pe­dia of Alabama.

AP FILE PHOTO

Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, right, meets with of­fi­cials from south­ern states, in­clud­ing Alabama Gov.-elect Bibb Graves, left, Florida Gov. David Sholtz, in the pres­i­dent’s study at the Lit­tle White House in Warm Springs, Ga., in 1934.

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