LSU changes name of library
LSU's Board of Supervisors voted Friday to strip Troy H. Middleton's name from the university library to break from the school's racist past at the behest of Black students and Gov. John Bel Edwards.
"It is time for the name of the library to be changed," Edwards said while addressing the board. "In 2020 and going forward, LSU students shouldn’t be studying in a library named after someone who didn’t want them to be LSU students."
Middleton, who was LSU's president from 1951-62, supported segregation of students and opposed the integration of LSU with Black students during his tenure.
"We can't change the past, but neither should we live in it," Edwards said. "This is a chance to do that and be on right side of history.
"I want to unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter and Black students matter."
The move to change the name of the library has gained momentum in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd's death has triggered a national movement of protests and marches seeking racial justice.
Gideon Adeyemo and Richala Jackson were among the Black student leaders who addressed the board asking for the change.
"People don't change until institutions ... and symbols change," Jackson said.
Former state lawmaker Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge represented the Middleton family during the meeting in opposition to the name change.
"With Troy Middleton there is so much to be proud of when you take the whole context of his career," Jenkins said.
Edwards, a former Army ranger, said while he respects and appreciates Middleton's military service, it doesn't wipe out his racist actions as LSU president.
"We want every student to feel valued and respected, so we have to engage in hard, uncomfortable conversations," the governor said. "Then we have to take action."