[Ed. – Possible replacement names: Jesse Jackson Hall, Holder Hall, Annie Hall…]
Clemson University should rename Tillman Hall, a building that honors a “racist” who advocated brutality against black people, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in Greenville on Friday.
“Ben ‘Pitchfork’ Tillman was a racist who reacted to the African-American people with violence,” said Jackson, a Greenville native. “He recommended genocide against black people.”
In an exclusive preview of his remarks as keynote speaker at Greenville’s MLK Diversity Banquet on Friday night, Jackson also criticized Gov. Nikki Haley and other state leaders for refusing to expand Medicaid.
“The state is reducing the life expectancies of poor people,” Jackson tole The Greenville News as he prepared to speak at the TD Convention Center. “One-fourth of South Carolina is in poverty. People can’t get mammograms and can’t see a doctor but have to resort to emergency rooms.”
Clemson student Colby Lanham, a communications studies major, disagreed with Jackson. “We all know the history of Tillman,” Lanham said. “We know his viewpoints as well as those of Thomas Green Clemson and John C. Calhoun. But renaming a building won’t change history or Tillman’s view of minorities.”
Lanham supports recent diversity initiatives by Clemson President Jim Clements and suggested the school should do more to recruit minority students and faculty.
“Focusing on those efforts instead of renaming buildings is a more constructive idea,” Lanham said.