FSU panel recommends removal of BK Roberts name

Great news!  On May 4 the FSU Committee on Renamings voted unanimously to recommend to President Thrasher that BK Roberts' name be removed from the FSU law school main classroom building.  The committee noted that Roberts could still be recognized in some other manner for his contributions to founding the law school, but that his name on the building was not an appropriate honor given his past history of repeatedly defying the orders of a higher court in order to defend segregation. 

Committee members noted that Roberts defense of segregation represented a misuse of power and responsibility that is at odds with the core values and current mission of FSU, and made it more difficult to build community on campus.  A member noted BK Roberts' name on the building casts a long and ominous shadow over the school as FSU attempts to recruit, retain and graduate an ethnically diverse group of students, and that it is difficult to understand how the school can aspire to produce students who are expected to uphold the law and protect the interests of all citizens while in a building whose namesake BK Roberts represents values and actions that are contrary to issues involving basic civil and human rights. 

Another mentioned that exclusion of any race is unacceptable and should not warrant the naming of a campus building.  Still another said it was problematic to honor a person like Roberts in such a prestigious manner when he ultimately did not uphold the law and vehemently spoke out against equality. 

A few members spoke in favor of alternatives like keeping Roberts' name with the addition of contextualizing his segregationist history, or "retiring" the name while adding educational materials to tell the whole story. Ultimately, however, all panel members voted unanimously in favor of removing BK Roberts' name from the building.

This recommendation is an important step but not the end, since next FSU President John Thrasher must accept the recommendation (which is expected), and then ultimately the decision must be approved by the legislature.  Once Thrasher accepts the recommendation, FSU is likely to submit the proposal to the legislature next fall as part of its annual legislative package and then FSU lobbyists would promote the removal of Roberts' name from the building.  The next scheduled meeting for the legislature is in the spring of 2019.

In other business, the committee also recommended removing the name of Francis Eppes from the criminology/psychology building due to his past history of owning and oppressing slaves, as well as removing a statue of Eppes from in front of the Westcott Building at FSU's eastern entrance on College Avenue where the FSU administration is housed.  The Eppes recommendations would not need legislative approval.