NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The name John C. Calhoun will remain on one of the 12 residential colleges at Yale. Calhoun is a notorious defender of slavery, a defender of state’s rights, and a man who once labeled slavery as a “positive good.” Yale officials said this decision will encourage the campus community to confront a history of slavery.
Yale President Dr. Peter Salovey, made the announcement in a written statement, that reads in part: “Ours is a nation that often refuses to face its own history of slavery and racism. Yale is part of that history. We cannot erase American history but we can confront it, teach it, and learn from it. The decision to retain Calhoun College’s name reflects the importance of this vital educational imperative.”
The Greater New Haven NAACP doesn’t agree that this is how you teach students about a painful history.
“That does not conflate with naming a building after someone who harbored hatred and disdain for an entire race of people,” said Dr. Edward Joyner, Greater New Haven NAACP.
Calhoun graduated from Yale in 1804. He became a vice president, a secretary of war and a U.S. senator from South Carolina, where he defended the South’s slave-plantation system in the years before the country erupted in Civil War over the issue of slavery.
“A man that if he came back today would be disappointed that Yale had a Jewish president and so many other people of color and ethnic groups,” Joyner said of Calhoun.
New Haven’s NAACP said they are profoundly disappointed in Yale’s decision.
“No one wants to erase the past,” Joyner said. “That doesn’t mean we should name buildings and monuments after people in the past who had real, serious reservations about humanity of a whole group of people.”
In another decision, Yale decided to remove the label of “master” from the residential colleges and replace it with more contemporary-sounding “head of college.”