The Daily Gamecock

Students ask state legislators to repeal Heritage Act at USC NAACP event

<p>The event took place at Davis College. Davis College is one of the oldest buildings, located close to the Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina.&nbsp;</p>
The event took place at Davis College. Davis College is one of the oldest buildings, located close to the Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina. 

USC’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP reserved a room in Davis College for all students to come and email state legislators about voting to repeal the Heritage Act Monday night.

Monday night’s efforts were in response to the discovery that the USC administration was not planning to ask legislators to rename campus building names, The Chronicle reported. The Chronicle’s article revealed what many student activists already believed, Courtney McClain, political action chair at USC’s collegiate chapter of the NAACP, said. 

According to chapter President Caley Bright, a second year criminology and criminal justice student, the goal of email-banking at tonight’s meeting was to let state legislators know that students at USC care about this issue and want to see change. 

This event was the first call to action out of more to come, according to McClain, who is a third year broadcast journalism student.

“Why was Pastides on campus talking about diversity, talking about including people, acceptance and everything and yet you’re saying that ‘well, I wasn’t going to ask the state legislature to do this anyways'?” McClain said.

Robert Morris, presidential advisor for USC’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP, said he had seen this kind of behavior before, as he grew up in a predominantly white town.

“You just can’t let it discourage you. You just have to continue to push forward and strategize and make another action plan to see what we can do to keep going. The main thing is just to make sure that we don’t get discouraged,” Morris, who is a third year mechanical engineering student, said.

According to Bright, the university President’s support, along with the support of everyone else, is needed to accomplish the chapter's goals. Bright said as long as campus buildings are still named after racist figures, it’s difficult to believe the university truly accepts nonwhite students.

“There was a time where our university was segregated and Black people and Asian people and diverse people weren’t allowed at the school, and it was a sign that they didn’t want nonwhite students here. And I think that having the racist names on the buildings and glorifying these figures is still a sign that they don’t want nonwhite students here,” Bright said.

McClain also said that many people don’t realize this is an issue that affects all minorities and women, not only Black students. 

“I think a lot of people like to kind of try to pin it as it’s with Black students, but it’s affecting everyone because I don’t think a woman should have to go into a dorm named after a man that literally mutilated the genitals of all types of women without anesthesia,” McClain said.

McClain is referring to the S Wing of the Women's Quad residence hall, previously called "Sims" after J. Marion Sims. Sims performed an unknown number of surgeries on enslaved women without any anesthesia.

Morris said that while he believes repealing the Heritage Act is the right thing to do, politicians often have different agendas and standards to meet for their constituents. However, he said he hopes state legislators will eventually come together in agreeing to repeal the Heritage Act.

“This is work that’s been going on for decades, and so we just have to continue to work and carry on the torch. And so it’s just amazing to realize that we really stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and that we’re just continuing to push the envelope a little further,” Morris said.