Clemson University was built on the plantation of former Vice President Calhoun. Known for defending slavery and owning around 80 slaves himself, Calhoun has become a controversial name on the Clemson campus, where it appears everywhere, including the school’s Honors College.
And many have had enough.
Last week, a Clemson student launched a Change.org petition calling for the renaming of Calhoun Honors College, which has already collected more than 12,500 signatures.
And on Monday, DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, condemned his alma mater on Instagram for continuing to honor Calhoun’s name – writing that this is one of the reasons he does not mention Clemson before games of the NFL.
“Clemson University should in no way honor the slave owner John C. Calhoun,” he writes.
The debate over Calhoun’s presence on the Clemson campus is not new. But he was revived as discussions about race and the legacy of slavery increased after the death of George Floyd while he was detained by four Minneapolis police officers.
The description of the petition says that Calhoun “illustrates institutional racism and white supremacy” for his role in the defense of slavery.
In a statement to CNN, Vice President University Relations Mark Land said the university is aware of the current petition and “respects the views of those who raise the issue in this way.”
“The University continues to seek to make the most of our recent initiatives designed to make Clemson a place where all of our students, employees and guests feel welcome at all times. This problem will be part of this effort, “the statement said.
Clemson University is not the only college that has come under scrutiny in recent years.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced in 2018 that it would change the plaques honoring William R. Kenan Sr. at the Kenan Memorial Stadium to honor his gifted son, William R. Kenan Jr.
Kenan Sr. played a role in the Wilmington race riots in 1898 when a group of white militias rose up in a coup, terrorizing and killing black residents and business owners , according to the student newspaper UNC Daily Tar Heel.