LSU to rename library named for controversial past president
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A library at Louisiana State University named after a former school president who advocated for segregation will be renamed, school administrators and black student leaders said.
The decision to change the name of Middleton Library at the university in Baton Rouge was announced Wednesday evening, news outlets reported. The change is pending the approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to meet June 19.
“I do expect it will pass,” LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner told The Advocate.
The library was named after Troy H. Middleton, who served as president at the school from 1951 until 1962. He’s known for writing a letter in 1961 to former University of Texas Chancellor Harry Ransom in which he explains efforts to keep white and black students apart at the school, news outlets reported.
“He wrote, ‘Our Negro students have made no attempt to attend social functions, participate in athletic contests, go in the swimming pool, etc. If they did, we would, for example, discontinue the operation of the swimming pool,’” Frank James Price wrote in a biography about Middleton, WAFB-TV reported.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, an LSU alumnus, said Thursday that he supports the library renaming.
“We cannot change what has happened in the past and this does not erase a history of racial injustice. But we can choose to no longer glorify a time of racial segregation or those who sought to discriminate against our African American brothers and sisters,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.
The announcement of the name change comes just days after the university came under fire for its response to a video online, according to news outlets. The video, tweeted by actress and activist Skai Jackson, showed an incoming LSU freshman using a racial slur.
LSU’s official account responded saying it was “subject to constitutional limitation” in how it could take action on free speech. The school later apologized in a series of tweets, and vowed to meet with black student leaders to investigate and take action.
It’s unclear what consequences the incoming student might face. LSU Interim President Tom Galligan said he could not give specific information, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, The Advocate reported.
Galligan later tweeted that he was meeting with board and campus leaders several times earlier this week.
“Our goal is to erase symbols of things that exemplify a racist past,” Galligan said. In addition to the name change, a bust of Middleton and anything associated with his name at the library are expected to be removed.