We saw how the power of protest led to change at the University of Missouri.
And now, at the University of Maryland student protests have played a major role in forcing the university to address who its football stadium should be named after.
In a meeting earlier today (Dec.11) the University of Maryland Board of Regents voted to change the name of Harry C. ‘Curley’ Byrd Stadium to Maryland Stadium.
Byrd was an utter racist, who fought vehemently to keep African-Americans from attending the school. In 1950, when Parren J. Mitchell, an African-American, tried to enroll in graduate school, Byrd fought against it. He had classes specially set up for Mitchell away from the College Park campus.
Byrd served as the university’s president from 1935 to 1955, and even spent two weeks coaching the football team. He later ran for governor under a ‘separate but equal’ banner.
“The name stands as a vivid and painful reminder that a generation ago, they [African-Americans] were unwelcome on this campus,” Maryland president Wallace Loh said in a statement earlier this week. “This is a difficult and emotion-laden issue. Any outcome will likely please few.”
Difficult issue? What was so difficult about this issue? Whomever is not pleased with the name change should consider they are taking sides with an out and out racist.
And, yes, there are supporters of Byrd. They feel his mindset was just how people thought in those times. Byrd did a lot for the school in terms of its growth (60 buildings were constructed during his tenure). But buildings aren’t what make a university special, it is people. Brick and mortar will never out weigh human dignity.
As for the mindset of that time, well it was racist then and defending it is racist now. There was NEVER a time in the history of this nation where the universal mindset of all Americans supported the abuse of any group or race of people. Let us not forget that the State of West Virginia seceded from Virginia, rather than support secession from the United States of America.
Actually, racist thinking then was evil, and should not be honored today, at of all places, an institution of higher learning. Moreover, the thinly veiled cover for the ancient racists that requires that all Americans be tarnished by the stench of racism, is no longer an acceptable argument to alibi the legacy of racism.
Racists should be aware that sooner or later history will rent them out, and revile them for their heinous ideologies.
Of course, this illustrates the mindset of some that are at the university, even today, when you consider Byrd was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 1995.
Really, how does anyone who practiced racism and discrimination get into the hall of fame of an academic institution? If he was going into the White Supremcy or the KKK hall of fame, I could dig it.
But an institution of higher learning?
Having Curley Byrd’s name on the stadium was like going to work everyday wearing a Klu Klux Klan robe, but swearing to your friends that you aren’t racists.
It should also be noted that Loh had to be pushed to the point of asking for the name change.
If not for student protests involving people like Colin Byrd, the university would probably still have his name up over the stadium, in which some of the country’s finest African-American athletes play and practice.
In fact, Colin Byrd, who is of no relation to Curley, feels instead of calling the stadium ‘Maryland Stadium’, that is should be named after Darryl Hill. He was the first African-American football player at the University of Maryland, and in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The fact this stadium naming issue had to be pushed so hard before there was change, only shows just how much more needs to be done regarding issues of diversity.