UA Trustees Drop Bibb Graves’ Name From Autherine Lucy Hall
The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama voted to drop former Alabama Governor Bibb Graves' name from the hall that has borne his name since 1929 and instead call it Autherine Lucy Hall.
Last week, the Board's Working Group on Named Structures and Space recommended renaming Bibb Graves Hall to Lucy-Graves Hall, which honored the two-term governor as well as Autherine Lucy Foster, the first Black student to attend the University of Alabama following desegregation.
The Board adopted the recommended change, but immediately faced backlash from students, faculty, staff and alumni who questioned recognizing both Graves and Lucy on the same building.
Specifically, critics pointed to Graves' membership and leadership in the Ku Klux Klan, which supporters of the former governor said was more about political expediency in early 20th Century Alabama than his own racist beliefs.
After his election, Graves did a great deal for education in the state and for its Black population, but critics said the taint of his Klan association could not be washed away by his actions after winning the governor's office.
The Working Group hoped last week to continue to recognize Graves' achievements by renaming the building Lucy-Graves Hall, but earlier this week recognized his "complex legacy" distracted from their main priority -- honoring Lucy, her bravery and the trail she blazed for generations of Black students to come.
In a special-called meeting Friday morning, the Working Group, headed by Judge John England, recommended dropping Graves' name from the building entirely, and the Board of Trustees voted to accept that recommendation.
"The Working Group in making its recommendations certainly intended for that paired name to generate educational moments that can help us learn from our complex and rich history," England said. "Somehow or another, the honoring of Autherine Lucy Foster sort of took the background and that's not what we wanted. We've heard enough from people whose opinion matters to us -- students, faculty and staff -- that we can do that better than we have done."
Before the vote, England said Lucy was an inspiration to him and countless others, and that renaming the building in her honor alone was the right thing to do.
"We unanimously recommend this name and we recognize it's never too late to make the right decision," England said. "I think that's what the Board of Trustees will do if they adopt the recommendation we have made."
The University of Alabama's School of Education will now be housed in Autherine Lucy Hall, 66 years after she became the first Black Student to attend the University.
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