The University of Alabama Renames Hall Honoring a KKK Member, and Then Renames It Again

The board of trustees of the University of Alabama voted to change the name of Graves Hall, named after former Alabama Governor Bibb Graves. Considered a moderate on racial issues in Alabama at that time, Bibbs had served as Grand Cyclops of the Montgomery Klavern of the Ku Klux Klan.

Originally, the hall was to be renamed Lucy-Graves Hall. In 1956, Autherine Lucy was the first Black student to enroll at the University of Alabama. Angry protests by White students ensued. Foster was suspended three days later “for her own safety” and she was later expelled. It would be another seven years before another Black student enrolled at the university.

The renaming of the hall was met with protests. An editorial in the student newspaper on campus argued that “combining Lucy’s and Graves’ names conflates two legacies — one the university should embrace, and another it needs to shed. Attempting to commemorate them as equals is unjust.”

The trustees then decided to rename the building Autherine Lucy Hall.

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