The University of Texas is mulling whether to rename one of the campus’ buildings which was named for a prominent KKK member.
Simkins Hall, one of the campus dormitories, was named after William Stewart Simkins, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Florida who later became a law professor at the school.
“The question is, should we honor a white supremacist,” Dana Cloud, an associate professor of communication studies at the school, told the Austin American-Statesman after a recent forum on the topic. “I’m not sure why there is any question.”
Simkins was heavily in the KKK movement in Florida. In an article entitled, “Why the Ku Klux,” in a 1916 edition of UT’s alumni magazine, the Alcalde, Simkins reveals what happened when he and his fellow Klansmen went for a midnight ride.
“Most of our service was performed at night and on horseback and not by rail,” Simkins said. “The immediate effect upon the negro was wonderful, the flitting to and fro of masked horses and faces struck terror to the race, and any belated negro on the road at night who saw us coming never stood on the order of his going.”
The recent controversy began when a recent research paper exposed the forgotten past of Simkins and raised the issue of whether a building on the University of Texas’ campus should bear Simkins’ name.
“Removing the Klansman’s name from the dorm is the right thing to do,” Russell said in an op-ed piece in UT’s campus newspaper, the Horn. “However, if you prefer a legalistic loophole before taking action, I show in the paper that when UT’s Faculty Council voted in 1954 to recommend the Regents use the name Simkins, the faculty committee deliberately omitted reference to the Klan. The faculty misrepresented Simkins’ history by whitewashing his past.”
Another forum is planned this week, after which a recommendation from a group of 19 students and faculty members will be made to the board of regents on whether or not to change the name.