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U of Alabama Removes KKK Leader’s Name From Building

February 14, 2022

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to remove the name of a former Ku Klux Klan leader from a campus building and rename it for the first Black student to attend the institution, The Hill reported.

The College of Education building will now be called Autherine Lucy Hall, after Autherine Lucy Foster, who attended three days of classes in 1956 before riots over her admission prompted her suspension. She returned to the university in 1988, graduating with a master's degree in 1992, The Hill reported.

Previously the building was called Graves Hall, named for two-term Alabama governor Bibb Graves, who also headed up a Montgomery chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, according to WVTM.

Initially, the board planned to honor Foster by joining her name with Graves’s, so the building would be called Lucy-Graves Hall, the university announced on Feb. 3, the 66th anniversary of Foster’s enrollment. But after an outcry from students, faculty, staff and alumni, the board changed course, opting instead to use Foster’s name alone.

“Well, somehow the honoring of Autherine Lucy Foster sort of took the background and that’s not what we wanted,” Trustee John England Jr. told The Crimson White, the student newspaper. “We recognize it’s never too late to make the right decision.”

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Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg is a senior editor at Inside Higher Ed. A career journalist and educator, she joined the publication in August 2021 after eight years in Vermont, where she freelanced and taught writing at Middlebury College and Champlain College. Prior to that, she spent 22 years writing and editing for Newsweek magazine, where she covered everything from international affairs to arts and culture. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and River Teeth, among others. She has taught English and journalism at Phillips Academy, where she served as an advisor to the student newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. The mother of three nearly adult children, she is very much enjoying her newly empty nest.

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