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University of Alabama removes 3 Confederate plaques, to review names of all buildings

University of Alabama removes 3 Confederate plaques, to review names of all buildings (photo: Annie Mapp / ABC 33/40)
University of Alabama removes 3 Confederate plaques, to review names of all buildings (photo: Annie Mapp / ABC 33/40)
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The University of Alabama has removed three Confederate plaques and is reviewing all campus building names after a petition was created to rename buildings on the University of Alabama campus which have a racist history.

The plaques will be moved from the main library to “a more appropriate historical setting,” a news release said Monday. The rock the plaques were displayed on also removed from the property on Tuesday.

"It’s a really fast change I saw the announcement on the University’s Instagram about removing confederate references on campus, and I thought that it would take a very long time to happen," said Jonathan Booker, UA Senior.

Many gathered outside the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library Tuesday afternoon to watch as crews removed the rock with a crane. A bystander told ABC3340 he is a descendant of one of the confederate cadets honored at the University.

"My grandfather was born in 1849, and in 1865, he came to the University to train, and it was almost the end of the war,. He was 15 years old and one of the 500 cadets here at the University that went down University Boulevard to take on the Northern Army" said Lee Albritton.

Albritton says his grandfather's name was Joseph Neely Miller, and believes he would've been proud of the plaque removals.

"We’ve followed what’s happening in the country and are very sympathetic to removing any confederate Ku Klux Klan racist statues, building names or whatever," Albritton said.

The petition was created by a student named Mackenzi Dugan addressed to University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell. Dugan requests name changes for Morgan Hall, Nott Hall, Bibb Graves Hall, B.B Comer Hall and Manly Hall.

"I felt like I couldn't just sit and post on social media. I had to actually do something to make a change, and like you said , I do go in these buildings all the time and once I learned what they were named after I was sick," Dugan said.

Dugan says campus buildings should not be named after men who were members of the KKK or slave owners. As of 11 A.M., the petition had over 17,000 signatures.

"As a black male, it's hard walking on campus past the building of someone who wanted you to be a slave for the rest of your's time for change," said Student Government Association President Demarcus Joiner.

In response, the UA Board of Trustees and President of The University of Alabama have authorized the removal of three plaques on the university campus that commemorate UA students who served in the Confederate Army . They will be moved to a "more appropriate historical setting".

Additionally, the Board of Trustees says their president has appointed a select group of Trustees including Judge John England, Jr., Barbara Humphrey, Vanessa Leonard, Harris Morrissette, Scott Phelps and Stan Starnes to review and study the names of buildings on all UA System campuses and report to the Board on any recommended changes. Judge England Jr. told ABC3340 he expects the board will meet soon regarding the topic.

"I don’t want anybody to think that I’m prejudging, but I am aware of the history and I want the facts, and I'll take the facts and apply them in a matter that will demonstrate that the University is committed to equality diversity and inclusion," England said.

In addition to being apart of the UA System Board of Trustees, England is also the first black man to have a building named after him on the University of Alabama campus. He described it as a humbling experience.

"Whatever we do as a state, as a nation, as a university or as a community, we have to do it together because not just one person has all the answers," he said.

The final decisions regarding those recommendations will be made by the full Board of Trustees at a public meeting, at a time to be announced.

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The UA system includes three universities and the UAB Health System, with more than 70,000 students in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville.

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