Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Simkins Hall Update

Posted in African Americans, Education, Leadership, Media by Andy Hall on July 15, 2010

From the Houston Chronicle:

The University of Texas’ governing board voted unanimously this morning [Thursday, July 15] to rename a dormitory and park named after former leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. . . .

The new names will be Creekside Residence Hall and Creekside Park.

The dormitory, built in 1955 on the banks of Waller Creek, was named for William Stewart Simkins, who taught at the law school from 1899 to 1929 and previously had been a leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Florida.

The park had been named for Simkins’ brother, former UT regent Judge Eldred Simkins, who also was involved with the Klan.

Good move. Some have argued that changing the name of the dorm is an attempt to cover up or deny an ugly historical fact — “history is history,” they say. That’s wrong. This move is exactly the opposite, in that it exposes a more complete view of both the Simkins brothers and the University of Texas in the first half of the 20th century. Professor Simkins contributed a great deal to the early university. That is widely recognized, and will not change. But he brought with that a shameful and hateful advocacy for racial violence and intimidation. He never repudiated that; in fact, he reveled in it. That is not something that should be honored, and you cannot honor the man without honoring the whole man. And in the Simkins brothers’ case, theirs is a deeply disturbing legacy.

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