Florida State University to Remove Name of Segregationist Judge From Its Law School

Last fall, John Thrasher, president of Florida State University, convened an advisory panel that was charged to make recommendations concerning the names of buildings and the placement of statues on campus that honored people whose “actions are no longer in line with contemporary thinking and values.”  The 15-member panel included students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The panel recently presented its recommendations to President Thrasher and he has taken the following actions:

President Thrasher will recommend to the legislature that the name of the B.K. Roberts College of Law be changed. Roberts was a founder of the law school and was a member of the Florida Supreme Court. He wrote several pro-segregation opinions during the 1950s.

In 2002, a statue of Francis Epps was erected on a plaza at the front gate of the university. Epps, was a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, mayor of Tallahassee, and a founder of the university. He was also a slave owner. President Thrasher will have the statue removed to a less prominent place on campus and a plaque will be added that provides biographical information including the fact that he owned slaves.

The advisory panel also recommended that Epps Hall, which houses the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, have its name changed. But President Thrasher rejected this proposal and wants to retain the name of Epps Hall. However, a historical marker will be placed on the building that explains Epps’ role in establishing the university and other biographical information.

In a statement, President Thrasher wrote: “The great value of history is understanding and learning from it so we can move forward. Examining the names of these two campus buildings and the placement of this statue has afforded Florida State University that opportunity.”

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