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CAIR Urges Univ. of South Carolina to Drop Racist Building Names, West Virginia to Remove Confederate Monuments at State Capitol

(WASHINGTON D.C., 7/16/2021) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged the University of South Carolina (USC) to remove the names of racist and Confederate historical figures from buildings on campus. CAIR also urged West Virginia lawmakers to remove a bust of Confederate general ‘Stonewall’ Jackson from the State Capitol grounds.

SEE: University of South Carolina Won’t Remove Names With Racist, Civil War Past From Buildings

SEE: West Virginia commission punts on Confederate memorials

A special committee at USC has found 11 buildings on campus named for racist and Confederate historical figures, including segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond and Senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, who led violent racist mobs to stop Black people from voting. Other buildings identified by the special committee were named for Civil War or segregationist figures including Confederate commanders Robert E. Lee and Wade Hampton III. The special committee is expected to release their report today. 

On Wednesday, USC Interim President Dr. Harris Pastides issued a letter to campus saying that state law prevents the university administration from changing the names, but that university officials “have a duty to tell a more complete history of these individuals and their acts in the context of our shared community values.” The letter suggested naming new buildings after Black leaders and historical figures, but seemed to indicate that the university would not request lawmakers to change any building names. 

The Heritage Act, passed in South Carolina in 2000, requires a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly to change the name of any building named for a historical figure. 

West Virginia’s Capitol Building Commission met Wednesday but did not discuss removing a bust of Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson from the Capitol rotunda, or a statue of Jackson from the southeast corner of the Capitol complex. Calls for the removal of the bust and statue date back a decade, and were intensified during the Summer 2020 protests following the killing of George Floyd. In December, the Capitol Building Commission held a public hearing at which 7 out of the 8 speakers called for the statue and bust to be removed from Capitol grounds. 

“Memorials celebrating the racists who defended slavery and segregation do not belong on public property,” said CAIR Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. “We urge public institutions to remove relics of hatred and bigotry from their institutions so that all feel welcome and so that our nation can finally stop celebrating one of its darkest chapters.” 

He noted that CAIR has supported the removal of Confederate statues and symbols across the country.

SEE: NC: CAIR Supports Removal of Confederate Statue, Condemns Feces Smeared on Black Lives Matter Sign, Both in North Carolina 

SEE: CAIR Welcomes Removal of Confederate Monument from North Carolina County Courthouse 

SEE: CAIR Welcomes Decision to Remove Confederate Statues that Sparked Deadly White Supremacist, Neo-Nazi Rally in Charlottesville, Va.

The American Muslim community and CAIR stand in solidarity with all those challenging anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and all other forms of bigotry.   

SEE: CAIR Condemns Hate Incidents Targeting Utah Hispanic Family, Asian Business 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.      

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.    

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,  

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