Yesterday FSU President John Thrasher promised to seek legislative action to legally remove BK Roberts' name from the main law school classroom building and instead provide contextualized recognition of Roberts' within the law school, accepting the FSU Renaming Committee's recommendations.
Thrasher noted that to keep Roberts name on the building would continue to honor someone whose decisions and actions supporting segregation do not reflect FSU's values or the rule of law. Instead, the contributions Roberts made to founding the law school and Florida's legal system could be recognized in a more appropriate and alternative manner within the law school.
While Roberts left a complicated legacy, Thrasher said, Roberts' name on the building is a painful reminder of Florida's segregationist history and highly offensive to many in the FSU community. Thrasher also noted Roberts' name on the building celebrates a man who defied the highest court in the land and does so at the very place on campus where FSU teaches the rule of law.
The FSU panel met over the past 10 months and voted May 4 to recommend removing Roberts' name from the building. The full text of Thrasher's July 17 written statement can be found here. Thrasher's decision came less than a week after the panel issued its written recommendations July 12 (full text).
Since only the legislature has the power to change the building name, Thrasher promised to seek legislative action to remove Roberts' name from the building. The legislature next scheduled meeting is in March 2019, after the 2018 elections. Thrasher is a former speaker of the house and senator and also a 1972 graduate of the FSU College of Law. FSU is expected to use university lobbyists to press for approval of the measure during next year's session.