Hampton University Honoring George H.W. Bush With Statue Sparks Debate

Hampton University, a historically Black University in Virginia, revealed the newest addition to their campus, Legacy Park, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday.


Legacy Park is located between Hampton’s Memorial Church and Ogden Hall. The area contains statues to honor people said to have supported the university’s mission over the last 150 years such as Mary Jackson, the first Black female NASA engineer, Frederick Douglass and U.S. presidents William Howard Taft, Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush.

However Bush’s statue is raising a few eyebrows for some due to his complicated legacy on race issues.

“President Bush demonstrated a long-standing support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities over his career,” the university said, in a press release.

The 41st U.S. president died on Nov. 30.

“I believe in giving people their credit when it is due,” Hampton’s President Dr. William R. Harvey said in December. “President Bush was not only a good friend of mine, but he was an extraordinary person who believed it was crucial that African Americans have access to education. I think that’s something that we must acknowledge.”

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) said in a
statement in December:

“George H.W. Bush was fully committed to UNCF’s mission to increase the number of African American college graduates and to preserve Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

But Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley noted that Bush did partake in “dog whistle” politics.

“Intellectually and emotionally, he was somebody who was civil rights-minded,” Brinkley
told PBS News Hour. “Bush wanted to see himself as being a man devoid of racism. But the reality is that Bush often had to do dog whistles and appeal to less enlightened Americans on race.”

When running for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, he came out against the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. But later regretted it. Bush joined a group of moderate Republicans to support civil rights legislation and voted in favor of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, as a freshman Texas congressman.

During Bush’s 1988 bid for the presidency, the Willie Horton ad put out by a conservative PAC stoked racial stereotypes in regard to criminal justice in order to portray Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the Democratic opponent, as soft on crime. The ad highlighted Horton a convicted murderer who raped a white woman when he was out on a furlough program that Dukakis supported.

Though the Bush campaign didn’t technically put out the ad, Bush repeatedly brought up Horton’s name in speeches.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said that Bush regretted promoting the Willie Horton strategy.

“It was out of character for him,” Jackson told PBS. “He did it in the heat of battle.”

In 1991, Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court; and Thomas went on to rule against affirmative action.

Bush wound up not supporting his party in 2016 because he did not endorse fellow Republican Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Twitter users, including Hampton alumni, are voicing their objection or support of the statue on campus:

Latest News

Emmett Till

Second Probe Into Emmett Till Murder Closed After Investigators Fail To Prove Key Witness in Case Lied to Police

The long, tragic tale of Emmett Till, whose murder became one of the leading factors in creating the modern civil rights movement, continues with apparently no end in sight. CNN’s Laura Jarrett reported that “the Justice Department has officially closed its investigation into the infamous killing of Emmett Till for…

Farmington, Utah

School District in Farmington, Utah Covered Up Over 200 Cases of Racial Harassment During a 5-Year Period

In a disturbing new report, officials with the Department of Justice have revealed that Black and Asian American students at a school district in Utah underwent years of verbal abuse and bullying while administrators willfully turned their back on the issue. In total, school records show at least 212 documented…

WNBA players

WNBA Outperforms All Other Athletic Leagues on Diverse and Inclusive Hiring Practices

The WNBA is continuing its winning streak, outperforming all other major athletics groups when it comes to racial and gender hiring practices. Brooke Migdon of The Hill reported that “the Women’s National Basketball Association this week earned a nearly perfect score for race- and gender-inclusive hiring in 2021, according to…

Three BASF Women Leaders Honored at the Manufacturing Institute’s 2021 STEP Ahead Awards

Originally published at basf.com. BASF ranked No. 12 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Three BASF leaders in manufacturing were among 130 women recognized nationally at The Manufacturing Institute’s ninth annual STEP Ahead Awards. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the program recognizes women…