White Supremacists Honored With School Names

By Chris Hoenig

Russell, Hampton, Aycock

A Florida school board decided last month to remove the name of former Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan B. Forrest from a high school whose student population is more than 60 percent Black. While the district made headlines for its decision to drop the name, other districts still lag behind.

Forrest still has a school named after him in his birthplace of Chapel Hill, Tenn. However, unlike the Duval, Fla., school that changed its name, Marshall County (where Chapel Hill is located) has a population that is nearly 91 percent white.

The University of Georgia’s library is named after Richard B. Russell, as is a middle school in the city of Winder, where nearly one-fifth of the population is Black. Despite a faculty statement on diversity, the University of Georgia measures the number of Black students in raw numbers (435 new Black students last year), rather than as a percentage of the student population (11,107 students were admitted and 5,150 enrolled, so 8 percent of them are Black). Those low numbers would be fine with Russell, one of the South’s staunchest supporters of segregation.

In South Carolina, former Confederate cavalry leader, Governor and U.S. Senator Wade Hampton III is still one of the state’s favorite sons, despite his ties to white supremacists and fundraising for legal-defense funds after the government began enforcing anti-KKK laws in the state. Wade Hampton High School in Greenville bears his name, as does a dorm at the University of South Carolina, an entire county, a school district within that county, and an elementary school and a high school within that district. Hampton County’s population is nearly 54 percent Black. Perhaps even more troubling is that Wade Hampton High School’s mascot (the Wade Hampton H.S. in Hampton County) is the Red Devils. Wade Hampton’s fiercest supporters, known for intimidating Black voters, were nicknamed “Redshirts.”

To the north, Charles Brantley Aycock has a middle school named after him in Greensboro, N.C., and a high school in Pikeville, located in Wayne County, where nearly one-third of the population is Black. The University of North Carolina also has a dorm named after the alum (class of 1880), as does Duke University. Aycock’s claim to fame He was a racist one-term governor (19011905) who led the imposition of Jim Crow laws across the state.

Then there’s long-time West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. A KKK leader in his home state, Byrd filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 before renouncing his white-supremacist roots and calling it “the most egregious mistake I’ve ever made.” Still, a Harrison County high school bears his name, as do centers and institutes at FIVE colleges and universities: West Virginia University, the University of Charleston, Marshall University, Wheeling Jesuit University and Shepard University.

The federal government doesn’t avoid the controversy either. The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., is named after the agency’s famous former Director. During his nearly five decades in charge, Hoover, a known racist, refused to protect Black civil-rights workers or investigate whites in race riots in the South.

Latest News

6 Ways DEI Continues to Shape and Evolve America’s Retail Sector

From increased innovation and profits to a better overall customer experience, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs can have a beneficial impact on retail businesses. But disparities in upper management, along with underlying racism that still exists in some store locations, show those efforts still have a long way to…

Hispanic Federation and Comcast NBCUniversal Partner to Advance Digital Equity Among Latino Communities

Originally published at corporate.comcast.com. Comcast NBCUniversal ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.   The Hispanic Federation (HF), in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo, announced the launch of the Latino Digital Equity Centers Initiative to strengthen workforce development and digital training programs in the…