Petition calls for University of Alabama building to be named after Harper Lee

By Shawn Price  |  Feb. 24, 2016 at 5:05 AM
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- An online petition is seeking to have a building at the University of Alabama renamed in memory of the late author Harper Lee.

The petition put forth by a junior at the university wants the building that houses the English department to be changed from the name of former Ku Klux Klan leader John Tyler Morgan to the name of the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

The petition had more than 2,000 digital signatures within days of Lee's death last week.

The petition reads, "Upon the death of Harper Lee...the University has an amazing chance to show our support for racial equality, as well as to honor the legacy generally of a woman who promoted kindness and empathy for all. Lee was doubtless the University's greatest contribution to literature, and it would be more than fitting for our English building to bear her name, which reflects so much more accurately the values of the University of Alabama, than that of white supremacist John Tyler Morgan."

Lee attended the university's law school from 1945 to 1949. Morgan was a six-term U.S. senator, Confederate general and a "grand dragon" of the Ku Klux Klan. He was also a fervent segregationist and worked to revoke the right of African-Americans to vote.

"I was really surprised," at the response, said Jessica Hauger, creator of the petition. "I thought it would get some backlash. But people started signing way more quickly than I imagined they would."

The student newspaper, the Crimson White, supported the change declaring Morgan "possibly one of the most despicable people whose name is displayed on a university building, and he has some stiff competition for that title."

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