The Austin American Statesman has a lengthy article on the growing controversy over the William Simkins dormitory on UT's campus. Tom Russell's recent paper has brought attention to the dormitory, named for a long-time UT professor. Simkins was -- among other things -- a supporter of the Klan in the early 20th century.
Simkins' history with the Klan was not well known at the time the building was named for him. The law school dean, Page Keeton, supported the naming in 1954, but was unaware of Simkins' history. From the Austin American Statesman:
Page Keeton , dean of the law school, suggested the name earlier that year, and a faculty naming committee omitted mention of Simkins' Klan involvement when it brought the matter before the full body of faculty representatives, according to Russell's article.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a former state comptroller and Austin mayor, said her late father could not have known about Simkins' Klan connection.
"My dad was a staunch, staunch advocate for civil rights. He would never have condoned anything that gave any credibility to anything having to do with the KKK. He'd be leading the charge today to change the name," Strayhorn said.
Keeton, who died in 1999 , was dean for 25 years
Among Keeton's acts of heroism on behalf of civil rights was this:
In the early 1960s, one of his professors was summoned to appear before the regents, who were angry that he was giving legal advice to students suing to integrate dormitories, according to "Integrating the 40 Acres," a book by Dwonna Goldstone.
Word soon came that if the regents insisted on the professor's appearance, the entire law faculty would resign. The regents backed down. Such a line in the sand could not have been drawn without the dean's backing, Russell said.
Read the rest of the story here.