BK Roberts supporters address committee

Supporters of keeping BK Roberts name on FSU law school's classroom building, including former FSU president and law school dean Sandy D'Alemberte, addressed the FSU Renaming Committee April 2.  D'Alemberte noted that while he had known BK Roberts for a number of years and was not an admirer, he still thought Roberts' name on the building was appropriate given the role Roberts played in getting the law school started in the 1960s.  D'Alemberte also pointed out that BK Roberts wrote many excellent judicial opinions over his career, but the ones that prevented Virgil Hawkins from attending law school because he was black in the 1950s were wrong at a time when Roberts should have gotten it right.  However, despite the negative aspects of Roberts' career, his role in creating the FSU law school was deserving of recognition by naming the building after Roberts.

Also speaking in support of keeping Roberts' name on the building was Fred Baggett, FSU law school class of 1970 and former law clerk and law partner of Roberts.  Baggett noted Roberts 1950s opinions regarding Virgil Hawkins were indefensible, especially after Brown v. Board of Education outlawed separate but equal education systems in 1954.  But he also noted Roberts' extraordinary efforts to get the FSU law school off the ground in 1965 justified his name on the building.  Baggett also noted Roberts was the founder of the Florida public defender system and was one of the champions of court reform in Florida in the 1970s and worked to establish the simplified judicial system still in use today.

Other speakers appeared and spoke in favor of removing Roberts name from the building.  Also at the meeting was FSU President John Thrasher, who revealed that he invited D'Alemberte and Baggett to address the committee.  The committee indicated it hopes to make a recommendation to Thrasher about renaming BK Roberts Hall in the next few months.