The Daily Gamecock

Presidential Commission on University History provides options for renaming buildings

<p>A collage made up of buildings that are being considered for renaming on USC's campus.&nbsp;</p>

A collage made up of buildings that are being considered for renaming on USC's campus. 

The Presidential Commission on University History revealed on Tuesday a list of 13 names that are being considered as replacements for buildings on campus that might need renaming.

The list includes the trio of Black students who desegregated USC in 1963: Henrie Monteith Treadwell, Robert Anderson and James Solomon; the first Black South Carolina Supreme Court justice since Reconstruction, Ernest A. Finney Jr.; the first Black student body president campaign director, Luther Battiste; and one of the first Black women to attend USC during Reconstruction, Dial Saxon.

Other names included T. McCants Stewart, one of the first Black students to enroll at USC during Reconstruction; the Rollins sisters, Black women who created the South Carolina Woman Suffrage Association in 1871; and William Whipper, who manned a station of the Underground Railroad in Columbia.

The names of Robert Smalls, an enslaved man who captured a Confederate vessel and escaped to the Union alongside other slaves out of Charleston; Matilda Evans, the first Black woman licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina; and Alonzo Townsend, who was a part of the first class of Black students at USC, were also present on this prioritized list.

Harry Walker, USC's first Black student body president, and Willie L. Harriford, USC's first Black administrator, were considered, but not placed on the current list. Battiste directed Walker's campaign.

USC's chapter of the NAACP renamed the Thomas Cooper Library to the "Dean" Willie L. Harriford Library in February.

C. Edward Floyd, director of the South Carolina Collaborative on Race and member of the commission, said Congressman Jim Clyburn should be added to the list of names.

"Congressman Jim Clyburn, I think, should be way up at the top of that list, if not number one," Floyd said. "For all he's done for our area, which is an underprivileged area, I think that he should be considered very strongly."

Jennifer Gunter, the chair of the university history committee, said the committee will have to discuss if buildings should be named after someone who is still alive.

"That's one of the things that we're going to have to talk about in the criteria," Gunter said.

The final public forum will be conducted in a town hall-style with opportunities for question and answer, Elizabeth West, chair of the communications and education subcommittee, said.  No specific date for the forum has been decided.

The communications and education subcommittee will update its website, West said. No specific date or range of time was given.

"One of the major things we'll be taking up is the compilation of all of the public input that the commission has received so that can be gathered and sent to full commission," West said.

The committee has completed seven building name research files and has one more currently in progress, according to Andrea L’Hommedieu, the chair of the names and landscape committee. She said the eighth file should be completed this week.

The committee "at least doubled" its number of upcoming meetings to deliberate on names, L’Hommedieu said.

The university history committee is planning on proposing a plaza named for Battiste, according to Gunter, the co-chair of the university history committee alongside Valinda Littlefield.

"We are moving forward with Jessica Allison's proposal for a Luther Battiste Plaza, and she is doing work on that to try to figure out fundraising goals; working with development and alumni on that," Gunter said.

Correction (March 9, 2021, at 9:21 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated what year USC was desegregated.