Yale Removes Calhoun Portraits, Puzzles Over Name

January 26, 2016

Three portraits of Yale University’s Calhoun College namesake came down Monday as a larger debate over whether or not to rename the college itself continues.

"I think it broadens the symbolic space for discussion because it underlines the openness of the moment," said Julia Adams, professor of sociology at Yale and master of Calhoun College, about her decision to take the portraits down. A broader conversation about the name of the college -- which honors the pro-slavery South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun -- and how best to preserve and remember the darker elements of Yale's past is ongoing. (Pictured above is David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of History and Professor of African-American Studies and of American Studies, delivering a lecture on Calhoun's life and the meaning of Confederate symbols at an event in September.)

Adams also noted that "the portraits are in desperate need of cleaning and artistic valuation … I have to admit, it’s also practically helpful to be taking care of them right now."

A decision about the college's name is expected sometime before summer.

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