University of Alabama removes name of Klansman from campus building

A University building that formerly bore the name of a one-time governor who led the Ku Klux Klan will now be named after Autherine Lucy Foster, the first black person to attend the University of Alabama.

The trustees of the University of Alabama voted unanimously on Friday to ditch Bibb Graves from the name of the building.

The new vote repealed an earlier decision by the trustees to include both names on the campus building. “It’s never too late to make the right decision,” said John England, a former trustee who had led a committee that at one time recommended the joint name.

The committee then reversed itself after facing criticism highlighting the fact that names of a trailblazing black student and a governor with ties to the KKK do not belong together.

Now, the building will be known as the Autherine Lucy Hall in honor of Autherine Lucy Foster, who was the first black person to enroll at the school in 1956.

Foster attended classes in the building, which was still known as Graves Hall at the time, but she was expelled from the university just three days later after her being there sparked protests and threats on her life. Foster’s family requested that her maiden name be used since she was known as Autherine Lucy during her time on campus.

“The board’s priority is to honor Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster, who, as the first African American student to attend the University of Alabama, opened the door for students of all races to achieve their dreams at the university. Unfortunately, the complex legacy of Governor Graves has distracted from that important priority,” said the university in a statement released this week.

In 2019, Foster was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of Alabama, where she eventually returned and completed a master’s degree in education in 1992.




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