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June 05, 2010


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Thanks for posting this item about the Texas Klan Controversy. I hope that some faculty loungers will take the time to visit the site and provide input to The University of Texas.

I'd like to add three things.

1. Regarding the Faculty Council, I discuss their role in my paper. A faculty council committee omitted Simkins's Klan past from their memorandum to the Faculty Council recommending that the dorm be named after Simkins. I show in the paper that the committee used the Handbook of Texas as a source regarding Simkins. There was a full paragraph on his Klan activity. The committee skipped that information when they relayed his name to the full Faculty Council. The committee whitewashed his past.

For us lawyers, that misrepresentation is enough to merit unnaming the dorm, in my view. As well, though, it should be a reminder to us all to take our committee work a bit more seriously. My suggestion for UT has been that President Powers simply take the name off the dorm and kick the matter to the Faculty Council.

2. I have collected most of the media stories and many of the blog entries regarding this matter at I'm adding a little bit of original material as well. Yesterday, for example, I posted Professor Simkins's will, which I just got from the Travis County Texas Probate Department.

3. In comments to news stories, many people have revealed that they think that many of the names on campus buildings are those of Klansman. This has caused me to start a collection of the names of Klansman for whom university buildings, auditoria, programs, etc. are named. At this point, I have four.

I believe Bibb Graves to have been a Klansman, and he has a slew of buildings in Alabama named for his as well as something at Bob Jone University. Also in Alabama, Theo Bilbo once had a residence hall at Pearl RIver Community College named after him; I am not sure that it is standing. Outside of Alabama, there is only Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall at Middle Tennessee State University and Simkins Dorm at Texas. (I should mention Sen. Byrd, too, because if I do not others will. Sen Byrd is a former, repentant Klansman for whom many things are named. I believe that repentance is meaningful, so I have no beef with him.)

So far as I know, the only Klansman/Professor for whom a university building is named is Simkins. Worthy of mention, too, is the University of Oklahoma which took a Klansman/Professor's name off the Chemistry building in the 1980s after students insisted when the administrators dragged their feet.

My question to the lounge is do you know of other university/college buildings that carry the names of Klansman? If so, please send them to me. (Note, too, that I'm not asking for the names of Confederates, slaveholders, racists, or bad guys--Just members of the KKK.) Please send them to [email protected] for my collection.

Finally, and more personally, I'd like to note what a great friend Al has been during this controversy. I've gotten a smaller share of hate mail than I expected, but even so, it has been very important to me to have someone's whose counsel I could seek.

Tom Russell

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