Centre College Removes Name of Alleged Bigot From Campus Hall
Filed in African-American History on February 15, 2017
The board of trustees of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, has stripped the name of James Clark McReynolds from a campus building that housed some dormitory rooms and the college’s technology services office.
McReynolds was attorney general of the United States during the administration of Woodrow Wilson. In 1914, he was appointed an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court. He served on the Court until his retirement in 1941.
McReynolds was strongly opposed to President Roosevelt’s New Deal and is reported to have held racist views. He refused to have African Americans, women, or Jews as clerks and was said to have left the courtroom whenever Jewish Justice Louis Brandeis spoke or when an African American or woman attorney addressed the Court.
Upon his death in 1946, McReynolds left a gift of $59,000 to Centre College, which would have a value of $730,000 today. The gift prompted the college to name a building after McReynolds.
John Rouse, current president of Centre College, stated that the board acted because “the views for which McReynolds became mostly closely identified are completely inconsistent with the values fully embraced by the college, those of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance.”
The former McReynolds Hall is now known simply as 762 West Main Street.