JSU Board of Trustees vote to rename Bibb Graves Hall

Bibb Graves Hall was named after former Alabama governor Bibb Graves, who was a grand cyclops of the Montgomery chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. The JSU Board of Trustees voted to renamed that building to Angle Hall. (Grace Cockrell/JSU)Bibb Graves Hall was named after former Alabama governor Bibb Graves, who was a grand cyclops of the Montgomery chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. The JSU Board of Trustees voted to renamed that building to Angle Hall. (Grace Cockrell/JSU)

Miranda Prescott, News Editor

During their quarterly meeting on Tuesday, the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename Bibb Graves Hall, the university’s administrative building.

This decision came after a push from the SGA and the Faculty Senate beginning last August after a petition was spread among students over the summer calling for the name change.

The building will now be known as Angle Hall, pronounced “angel.” It is being renamed after alumni and benefactors Marcus Angle, Jr. and his wife, Mary, who made a private donation to secure the naming rights to the building.

Graves was a former governor of Alabama, elected to terms beginning in 1927 and 1935. However, he also was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, serving as grand cyclops of the Montgomery chapter and accepting help from the organization in his first gubernatorial campaign, although he left and disavowed the Klan before his second campaign.

“Events across the nation last summer compelled many of our students, student government leaders, alumni and employees to request that we consider renaming Bibb Graves Hall to reflect a more unified campus that believes in social justice and equality,” university President Don Killingsworth said in a press release. “What the Board has approved today ushes in a new, more modern era for this important piece of the university’s history.”

Alabama State University, a historically Black university, removed Graves’ name from a residence hall last year.

Marcus Angle said that it was of the utmost importance to their family that the building secure a new name.

“JSU’s diversity is what makes it special, and ultimately, diversity is good for any corporation, university or business,” he said.

Marcus Angle graduated from JSU in 1982 with a bachelor’s in finance. During his time at the university, he was president of the SGA, a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and a player on the 1980 baseball team. He was named Alumnus of the year in 2006.

Mary Angle graduated from JSU in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and was a member of the Marching Ballerinas.

“We wanted the individuals tied to this pivotal rename to be ones who have – and will continue to – positively impact the campus and its students for decades to come,” Killingsworth said.

“I’m very thankful for the Board of Trustees for even considering it,” said SGA President Jerod Sharp, “I know it’s tough to make decisions like this, but I do think it was the right one. It’s a great step moving forward and will unite all of the communities that make up Jacksonville State University.”

The university in an official statement said they plan on removing Graves’s name from the building over the next few months, with a rededication scheduled for April.

However, trustee Chairman Randall Jones said that there are plans for a plaque outside the building that discusses Graves and his history in the state. 

Other places on campus received names during the quarterly meeting as well. In the newly renovated Mason Hall, different rooms were named in honor of Maj. Gen. William Cotney, Dr. Susie Frances Dempsey, Dr. Patrica Corbin and Jimmy Hixon. The SBIC auditorium will also be named after Kenneth and Jenny Howell, who currently serve as chairs of the JSU Foundation Board.

This article originally appeared in The Gadsden Times, where News Editor Miranda Prescott is an intern reporter.

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