Many question adding Black trailblazer’s name to building honoring former KKK member

Graves Hall
Lucy-Graves Hall

Many people aren’t pleased with the University of Alabama System after its Board of Trustees announced last week that it is renaming Graves Hall to Lucy-Graves Hall in honor of Alabama’s first Black student, Autherine Lucy Foster.

Foster attended the University of Alabama for three days in February 1956 before she was expelled over rioting fears. Decades later, Foster returned and earned a master’s degree in elementary education, and in 2019 she was awarded an honorary doctoral degree.

The building was originally named for Alabama Gov. Bibb Graves, a former grand cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan, and he was heavily assisted by the group in his gubernatorial election.

The building’s initial name was named after former Alabama governor Bibb Graves. Graves was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and their assistance was instrumental in the 1926 gubernatorial election. Graves left the Klan soon after his election.

Several UA students said this attempt to honor Foster isn’t a good look.

“It doesn’t make sense why you’re so opposed to completely taking out his name when you know what he stood for and what he did,” said Anthony Williams II. “If that’s not something UA stands for, we should take that off.”

Student Aniyah Fleets-Giles said the name change is a half-hearted attempt at being progressive.

“I thought progress here at the University of Alabama is largely performative, and that’s what I kind of got from the name change,” Fleets-Giles said.

At least five other universities in Alabama have removed Graves’ name from buildings.

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