Yes, William Stewart Simkins was a co-founder of the Florida KKK who bragged about "whipping a 'darkey.'" But the University of Texas already has his name on a dorm. Taking it off would be a hassle. So, fierce debate!
The WSJ reports today on the ongoing controversy down in the Six-Shooter State, where University of Texas partisans are arguing whether to change the name of Simkins Hall. Simkins was a great law professor, after all! Also, here's a representative sample of a speech he once made title "Why the Ku Klux":
Now in the same town there was a negro by the name of Robert Meacham who was a prototype of the negro Lynch whose influence is portrayed in the "Birth of a Nation." Robert had been brought up as a domestic servant in a refined Southern family and absorbed much of the courteous manner of the old regime. He had been highly honored by the Republican party; in fact, had been made temporary chairman of the so-called Constitutional Convention heretofore referred to. He was at the time of which I am now speaking State Senator and Postmaster in the town. I could hardly exaggerate his influence among the negroes; glib of tongue, he swayed them to his purpose whether for good or evil; in a word, he was their idol. On one occasion he was delivering a very radical speech in which he referred to the paper which we were editing as that "dirty little sheet." He was correct as to the word "little," for it was not much larger than a good size pocket handkerchief; but it was exceedingly warm, a fact which had excited his ire. The next day, being informed by a friend who was present of Meacham's remark, I called upon him at the post-office and asked an interview. With his usual courtesy he bowed and said he would come over to my office as soon as he had distributed the mail. I cut a stick, carried it up to the office and hid it under my desk. Within an hour he appeared. I told him to take a seat, but I could see that he suspected something unusual as he began to back towards the door. I saw that I was going to lose the opportunity of an interview, so I grabbed the stick and made for him. Now, my office was the upper story of a merchandise building approached on the side by wooden stairs. I hardly think that he touched one of those steps going down; it was a case of aerial navigation to the ground. This gave him the start of me. He was pursued up to the postoffice door and through a street filled with negroes and yet not a hand was raised or word said in his defense, nor was the incident ever noticed by the authorities. The unseen power was behind me. Had I attempted anything of the kind a year before I would have been mobbed or suffered the penalties of the law.
William Stewart Simkins: violent racial terrorist and honoree of the University of Texas. The school "decided to name a building for Prof. Simkins the same year as the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision." Of course—let's not be hasty—this issue "is complex. It is nuanced and we shouldn't have knee jerk reactions over historical issues." Such as slavery and the KKK's decades-long rein of murder and terrorism.
We're sure that Texas will do the right thing.