University of Alabama trustees vote to rename Morgan Hall

Jessa Reid Bolling | @jr_bolling, News Editor

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees voted Thursday to rename Morgan Hall, originally named for a former Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon. 

The board voted unanimously to temporarily change the building’s name to English Hall. A permanent name for the building will be decided at a later date. 

Morgan served as a U.S. Senator for 30 years, during which time he said on the Senate floor that the “condition of the country would be better” without the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the federal government and state governments from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote based on their “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Trustee John England said Thursday he hopes the building will be renamed for an “appropriate individual” in the future.

“He referred to African Americans as ‘rats’ from the floor of the U.S. Senate and said slavery was the ‘highest point the Negro race could achieve.’ Of course, that means me,” England said. “As our research confirmed, Sen. Morgan laid the groundwork for the Jim Crow laws that would disenfranchise African Americans for decades.”

The resolution adopting the name change says that a plaque will be placed in the building where a portrait of Morgan once hung. The language of the plaque describes Morgan as an “ardent white supremacist” whose “harsh actions and strident words contributed to decades of racial injustice in Alabama and the United States.”

“Because these actions conflict so profoundly with the current values of the University of Alabama System, the Board of Trustees voted on September 17, 2020, to remove Senator Morgan’s name from the building,” the plaque will read. “The Board also called for the placement of this plaque to explain the reasons both for the University’s gratitude to Senator Morgan and for the decision to change the building’s name.”

Morgan Hall was not the only building on the University’s campus with a racist namesake.

A subcommittee was formed this summer by the board of trustees to review building names on the three UA System campuses and report any recommended name changes to the board. 

The trustees voted unanimously on Aug. 5 to rename Nott Hall to Honors Hall during a special meeting due to its racist namesake. The building was originally named for physician Josiah Nott who was a supporter of slavery and a believer in eugenics. 

The University removed three plaques commemorating UA students who served in the Confederate army and members of the student cadet corps involved in defending the campus during the Civil War.