Former South Carolina standouts Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are voicing their support to rename the school’s wellness center.
South Carolina’s rec center for students is named after longtime U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, who served over 48 years in the Senate from 1956 to 2003. Thurmond was a segragationist and began his Senate career as a member of the Democratic party. He switched to the Republican party in the 1960s because of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and became the longest-serving senator in U.S. history when he left office in January of 2003, six months before he died at the age of 100.
Wednesday afternoon, both Lattimore and Jeffery tweeted that Thurmond’s name should come off the wellness center because of his long-held beliefs.
To celebrate well known segragationist Strom Thurmond’s legacy by keeping his name on our Wellness Center sends a contradicting message to our black students @UofSC. We can no longer be held back by those whose ideals represent division. We must continue to fight for equality.— Marcus Lattimore (@MarcusLattimore) June 17, 2020
To celebrate well known segragationist Strom Thurmond’s legacy by keeping his name on our Wellness Center sends a contradicitng message to our black students @UofSC. We can no longer be held back by those whose ideals represent divison. We must continue the fight for equality. pic.twitter.com/WMnIPjmmqO— Alshon Jeffery (@TheWorldof_AJ) June 17, 2020
There were over 13,000 signatures on the petition referenced in Jeffery’s tweet as of Wednesday afternoon. The petition comes as South Carolina added a discussion about renaming buildings to its Friday meeting of the school’s board of trustees, though school president Robert Caslen has only specifically mentioned renaming a dorm for J. Marion Sims, a man who performed medical experiments on slaves.
Jeffery and Lattimore are two of the most famous South Carolina players of the last decade. Lattimore is the school’s fifth-leading rusher even though his career was marred by a devastating knee injury. He rushed for 1,197 yards as a freshman and scored 38 rushing touchdowns in three seasons. No other South Carolina running back has more than 31 career rushing touchdowns.
Jeffery, currently with the Philadelphia Eagles, is the school’s second-leading receiver and was passed by Bryan Edwards for the lead in career receiving yards in 2019. Jeffery had 3,042 receiving yards from 2009-2011 and his 23 receiving touchdowns are tied with Sidney Rice as the most by any South Carolina player.
Clemson renamed honors college
We’ve already seen what the addition of prominent football players to a push to rename a building can do in South Carolina. Clemson’s board voted to take John C. Calhoun’s name off its honors college last week after former Clemson players Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins helped make the movement more prominent.
Calhoun, the seventh vice president of the United States, was a slave owner and a secessionist. Many have wanted his name off the honors college for years, and the push got newfound support amid protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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