I will now set the DEFCON level for the comment section in this post to 2, with the very real possibility that we’ll have to go to 1 at some point in the very near future.
Maryland’s football home, Byrd Stadium, was named after Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, who served as the university’s president from 1936-54. The problem has become, though, that Byrd, the Washington Post writes, “barred blacks from enrolling until forced to do so by court order” and that “[w]hen he ran for governor, he did so as an ardent advocate for segregation.”
The number of complaints regarding the name has been growing in recent months, so much so that, in a letter, the current university president, Wallace Loh, is recommending that Byrd’s name be taken off the stadium. Loh has proposed that the name be changed to “Maryland Stdium,” and the school’s board of regents will vote on the issue Friday.
Below are excerpts from Loh’s letter to the campus community:
President Byrd is rightly regarded as ‘Father and Builder’ of UMD over a 43-year career here,” Loh wrote. “He dramatically increased enrollment, faculty, funding, and the size of the campus. He laid the foundation for today’s achievements. He earned his place in our University’s history.
“He was also an ardent proponent of racial segregation and discrimination. To many African-American alumni and students, ‘Byrd Stadium’ — the ‘front porch’ of the institution, not the most important part of the educational house, but the most visible one — conveys a racial message hidden in plain sight.
“The name stands as a vivid and painful reminder that a generation ago they were unwelcome on this campus. For them, this past is more than mere history. Their pursuit of inclusion and equal opportunity remains unfinished.
“History is not about the past. It concerns today’s debates about the past.” It is unfair to judge past leaders by contemporary values, he wrote. “Still, the world has changed.