Due to ‘Extreme’ Racist Views of Namesake, Former Governor
STILLWATER—Oklahoma State University has removed the name of Murray Hall and North Murray Hall because of the “extreme” racist views of the buildings’ namesake, The Black Chronicle has learned.
The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents voted on un-naming the buildings during a video conference meeting held in June, according to Shannon Rigsby, a public information spokesman for the university.
Tucker Link, chairman, said in June the board “fully intends” to remove the name.
The buildings have now been given “generic” names, according to the spokesman.
Before the name-change, the buildings bore the name of Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, who served from 1931 to 1935.
Students had requested the name-change earlier this year.
Burns Hargis, president of OSU, recommended the regents remove Murray’s name because of his advocacy for racist policies, such as segregation and Jim Crow laws.
Mr. Hargis said these policies effectively “stripped many Black Oklahomans of their constitutional right to vote.”
“For many in the OSU family, the building’s name has invoked reminders of this painful past,” the OSU president said in a statement in June.
“Oklahoma State is committed to eliminating systemic racism and embracing our responsibility as a university to support solutions to the inequality and injustice our country and community faces.”
As Oklahoma’s first speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Murray led the institution of Jim Crow laws and widespread segregation after Oklahoma obtained statehood.
He openly expressed his belief in the inferiority of Blacks and Jews, and later used racial slurs in his campaign for governor.
Students have advocated for several years to rename Murray Hall, which mostly houses offices and classrooms. More than 5,000 had signed a petition on change.org supporting a removal of his name.
“Gov. Murray was also a racist, anti–Semitic, anti-education governor, who was at the forefront of instituting Jim Crow laws and segregation in the state of Oklahoma,” the petition stated.
The regents adopted a policy a year ago for a formal process of name removals.
The OSU Student Government Association has passed a resolution supporting the un-naming, and the university’s Policy Review Committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni unanimously approved the name’s removal.
Mr. Hargis brought his formal recommendation to the regents board at the time of the June vote.
“The history associated with this building’s namesake has hurt many and is not consistent with our values of equality and justice for all,” Mr. Link said in a statement at the time.
Murray State College in Tishomingo is also named after the former Oklahoma governor.