Teen Vogue: SCAD Building Named After Clarence Thomas Sparks Opposing Petitions

Amber was quoted in a Teen Vogue article that highlighted controversy over the naming of the Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation in the era of the #metoo movement, and in light of the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings:

Yale University and other institutions such as University of Michigan have recently adopted policies about how to deal with requests to reconsider names of existing buildings. In 2017 Yale changed the name of Calhoun College, which was named after John C. Calhoun, the seventh U.S. vice president and a white supremacist who once called slavery a “positive good.” They renamed it after Yale alum Grace Murray Hopper, a computer science pioneer. Michigan announced earlier this year it will be changing the name of two buildings after the legacies of their namesakes were called into question.

Amber Wiley, assistant professor of art history at Rutgers University, researches architecture, urbanism, and African American cultural studies. She attended Yale as an undergraduate, where she says she witnessed firsthand the impact that being in Calhoun College had on students of color. “Place names are so important. They carry a lot of weight,” she says. “The kind of emotional and psychological toll that this plays on people who attend these universities, who have to sit in the classrooms in the building, this is not a thing to just take lightly. [They feel] the burden of history.”

Wiley says that in some ways, the discussion about Calhoun at Yale was much more straightforward than the current situation at SCAD because Calhoun’s pro-slavery views were well documented — and Calhoun died in the 1800s.

 

To read the full article, visit: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/scad-clarence-thomas-building-petitions