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Renaming Marshall University building a controversial idea

September 1, 2018

AMarshall University student organization has begun leading a charge to rename Jenkins Hall, a building on campus named for a Confederate general and slave owner.

Students for a Democratic Society at Marshall recently hosted a discussion on renaming the building. The group took the concerns to Marshall administration at the end of the last school year and in response, President Jerome Gilbert created a committee to look into the names of the buildings on campus. A report from that group is anticipated by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Herald-Dispatch readers shared passionate views on both sides of the topic.

Chris Sullivan: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with it being named after a confederate. Unfortunately slavery was a part of the world back then, and who is to say that a Confederate man wasn’t a good man who loved his country. Slavery is gone now. It’s over with. Let this petty part of ourselves disappear along with it.”

Ron Brady: “As a WV public school teacher for 40 years and the parent of an MU alum, I say change it. I see no valid reason why the change would be offensive, and I can see why it might bother people of color. ...”

Sam Hood: “One hundred fifty years ago the very men who tried to kill each other in the Civil War made peace, reconciled, forgave, and moved on ... Former Confederates were appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Attorney General, Secretary of the Navy, Interior Secretary, and there were over 50 former Confederates appointed to represent the U.S. abroad as ambassadors, ministers, and consuls. ... Why the bitterness today?”

Allison Meadows Scott: “You could rename it after Kellian V. Whaley, who led the Union troops against Jenkins in the Battle of Guyandotte. Whaley was one of the first Congressmen elected in WV as it became a state, after he had been a Congressman in VA. He gave a passionate speech supporting WV statehood ...”

George Watson: “Instead of looking at this as removing a name because of something we don’t like about the person, let’s look at it as an opportunity to name it after someone even more deserving. Or, in the alternative, name it after someone willing to give big money to the college contained within it, since that appears to be the modern way of naming buildings on campus.”

Gaines R. Johnson: “Marshall University is named for Justice John Marshall. The history books say John Marshall owned slaves. Do we need to change the entire name of the University, too? And what about all those buildings around named after Robert C. Byrd?”

Eric Kutcher: “Just focus on being a student and graduating first. There is a reason no one has ever suggested renaming the building. Because the majority of students just see it as the name of a building they have class in. Nothing more and nothing less. This stuff is getting out of hand.”

Joyce Martin Jordan: “I think they must have too much time on their hands to think up something like changing the name of a building on the MU campus! They need to concentrate on getting their education, graduating & hoping they get a job! ...”

Necia Thompson Freeman: “I think sometimes we spend more time trying to find something wrong than focusing on ways to make things positive. You can’t omit how we got where we are, next thing you know we will need to burn down his house. If we researched our pasts, there would be a lot of us that might want to change our last names as to not carry on the name of our forefathers. Find someone that doesn’t have their name on a building and save up to erect a statue of that person and have a history park or something. ...”

Cheryl Wolford Cannizzaro: “This is political correctness run amok. You are attempting to impose today’s values/morals/ideas on events that occurred in a different era ... of course history wasn’t always “good” as stated, but injecting ‘white supremacy’ in to everything is becoming tiresome and ineffective.”

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