Trustees rename Manly Hall, ignore UCW suggestions

Manly Hall, named for former UA president and slave owner Basil Manly, is the third building to be renamed this year.

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees voted Friday to rename Manly Hall, originally named for slave owner Basil Manly.

The resolution to temporarily rename the hall to Presidents Hall was unanimously approved by the board.

United Campus Workers of Alabama demanded in July that faculty, staff and students from each campus within the UA System be appointed to the Building Names Review Committee and suggested name options that could be used to rename the buildings in question. UCW suggested that Manly Hall be renamed after any of the people who were enslaved by the University during his administration. None of their suggested names were used.  

Manly served as the second president of the University for 18 years. The building was named after him in 1886.

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.

Trustee John England said the subcommittee found that Manly was an ardent and outspoken secessionist and slave owner who “used his position as a religious and education leader to defend white supremacy for many years.”

Manly’s own memoirs indicate that he whipped an enslaved person owned by the University at the request of and in the presence of the faculty. 

“[Manly’s] physical abuse of persons of color is well documented, as well as his misuse of the Bible to support white supremacy and calling slavery ‘the providence of God,’” England said. 

This is the latest building name on the University’s campus that has been renamed due to a racist namesake. 

The board voted unanimously on Sept. 17  to temporarily change the name of Morgan Hall to English Hall. A permanent name for the building will be decided at a later date.

The trustees voted unanimously on Aug. 5 to rename Nott Hall to Honors Hall during a special meeting. The building was originally named for physician Josiah Nott who was a supporter of slavery and a leading proponent of eugenics. 

This change came shortly after 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.

Read more about the University’s ongoing reckoning with building names below:

‘It’s really getting old’: The ongoing reckoning of UA building namesakes