KKK Dorm at Texas U May Finally Get a Name Change
July 12, 2010
(ChattahBox)—A dormitory at the University of Texas that has been named after the founder of the Florida branch of the Ku Klux Klan, since the 1950s, may finally receive a 21st century name change, thanks to a scholarly journal article published by a Denver law school professor. Thomas D. Russell’s article drew attention to the campus dorm named afterKlansman William Stewart Simkins, as part of a greater profile of odious institutional racism at the university, developed to combat compliance with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. When the KKK dorm became the subject of unwanted national attention, the Austin-based school’s president announced he would recommend a name change to the Board of Regents.
Russell’s provocatively entitled piece, ‘Keep the Negroes Out of Most Classes Where There Are a Large Number of Girls’: The Unseen Power of the Ku Klux Klan and Standardized Testing at The University of Texas, 1899-1999,” drew attention to past racism at The University of Texas, as well as the vast number of college buildings named after KKK members throughout the South. The article’s title is a quotation from the University of Texas registrar nine days after the decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
William Stewart Simkins was a revered former University of Texas Law School professor and Confederate soldier. But he also is known for founding the Florida Klan with his brother after the Civil War:
“Professor Simkins helped to organize the Ku Klux Klan in Florida at the conclusion of the American Civil War, and he advocated his Klan past to Texas students. Like the university registrar during the 1950s, Professor Simkins was explicitly concerned with the sexual defense of white women.”
And Russell points out that naming the school building after Simpkins, was an act of defiance by university officials, in response to pressure to desegregate its classes:
“During the 1950s, the memory and history of Professor Simkins supported the university’s resistance to integration. As the university faced pressure to admit African-American students, the university’s faculty council voted to name a dormitory after the Klansman and law professor. The dormitory carries his name to the present day. During this time period, alumni also presented the law school with a portrait of Professor Simkins. Portraits and a bust of Professor Simkins occupied prominent positions within the law school through the 1990s.”
The University of Texas at Austin president, William Powers Jr., will recommend renaming the dorm and adjacent park to Creekside Dormitory and Creekside Park, at the July 15 meeting of the Board of Regents.