Vanderbilt to Pay $1.2M to Zap 'Confederate' Name

University seeks to rename Memorial Hall
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2016 6:52 AM CDT
Vanderbilt to Pay $1.2M to Zap 'Confederate' Name
Vanderbilt University wants to remove "Confederate" from the name of this dorm.   (AP Photo/The Tennessean, Ricky Rogers, File)

In an attempt to bury a relic of its past, Vanderbilt University announced Monday that it will pay more than $1 million to remove the word "Confederate" from one of its dorms, the Tennessean reports. Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos called the inscription on Confederate Memorial Hall "a reminder of racism, slavery and a very, very bloody Civil War." The Nashville university's efforts to change the name in 2002 were halted when the United Daughters of the Confederacy sued. The group’s $50,000 donation in 1933 helped build the dorm. A state appeals court ruled the building could be renamed Memorial Hall only after Vanderbilt gave the United Daughters back their money—$1.2 million in today’s dollars.

The university has the cash, thanks to a raft of anonymous contributors who wanted the tie to America’s painful past broken for good. "It's a symbol that is, for many people, deeply offensive and painful," Zeppos told the Tennessean. "And to walk past it or to have to live in that space is really something that I just don't think is acceptable.” Yet tampering with Confederate imagery remains controversial, and a new state law makes it harder to do so, the AP reports. Efforts by Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro to remove the name of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from a building could face a tougher climb under the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which now requires a vote of two-thirds of the state’s Historical Commission rather than a simple majority. (Read more Vanderbilt University stories.)

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