Students push to change name of street honoring KKK member
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — University of Oklahoma students are pushing to rename a Norman street honoring a former university professor who also was a grand dragon in the Ku Klux Klan.
The university’s student government association passed a resolution last month to support efforts to rename DeBarr Avenue, including a petition by Norman City Councilwoman Breea Clark, The Oklahoman reported.
“It’s not on our property but there are students who live on the street who are affected by it,” said OU junior Daniel Williams.
Clark posted an online petition in March asking residents to help change the name, which honors Edwin DeBarr, one of the first professors at the university.
“Our tag line, of sorts, is building an inclusive community,” Clark said. “I take that charge very seriously. To me, a street name is an honor and by leaving the street named after DeBarr we are continuing to honor someone who doesn’t deserve it.”
DeBarr became a KKK grand dragon while at the school and was forced out in 1923 because of his Klan involvement. The university also removed Debarr’s name from one of its buildings.
“The alleged connection of Dr. Edwin DeBarr with the Ku Klux Klan was in direct violation of the policy of the University of Oklahoma,” said OU regents chairman H.L. Muldrow when DeBarr was removed from his position in the 1920s.
The university’s student government is set to present a resolution before the Norman Human Rights Commission next week.
“I think students have a very powerful voice. We are a core part of what Norman is,” said OU sophomore Lauren Lyness. “Every day I drive past DeBarr street and I wonder why it’s still named after him.”