An online petition campaign geared towards pressuring the University of Alabama to rename a well-known campus building after Harper Lee is gaining traction.
The campaign, which was launched just hours after Lee’s death wants the flagship university of the state to rename Morgan Hall to Lee Hall and has already picked up over a few hundred signatures.
Morgan Hall was named after John Tyler Morgan, a Confederate general and statesman who had ties to the KKK after the Civil War.
Alabama student Jessica Hauger launched the petition on Change.org.
She thinks that the name change would be a huge sign of progress at Alabama.
“Upon the death of Harper Lee, who attended the University of Alabama from 1945-1949, 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,” Hauger wrote on the website. “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 is best known as the author of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, a 1960 fictional work that inspired generations of children and anti-racism activists. She was born and raised in Alabama and attended UA.
“I decided to post something today because it was always kind of a no-brainer to me that Morgan Hall, the English building, should be named after Harper Lee, one of the most famous people to attend UA and easily the greatest writer to do so,” Hauger said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
Hauger said that she believed that “To Kill A Mockingbird” is easily one of the most beautiful books she’s ever read, and that it’s “holistically honest” about people and race.
“It makes clear the ambiguity of people, that no one is all bad or all good,” Hauger said. “I think her tone is perfect for what the University should be doing right now – accepting our history of discrimination and recognizing that acceptance as an important step to improving upon our community and campus.”
The idea of changing the name of a campus building long associated with a racist and which also houses the English department could be especially poignant considering Lee’s position as a voice for reform in the New South.
“Harper Lee is an almost universally loved figure, and her name next to that of John Tyler Morgan makes the right answer seem so clear,” Hauger said. “She is a unifying figure, and one that the south, Alabama, and the University can be proud of. I think placing her name on Morgan Hall would make a statement that we are moving toward the values and goals that Lee expressed in her work and life.”
You can sign the petition here.
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