The Clemson University Board of Trustees voted to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from its honors college because of a petition signed by nearly 20,000 — including NFL stars Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins — that circulated earlier this week, the Greenville News reported.
The former Clemson players retweeted a petition started by Clemson student Roann Abdeladl that demanded the removal of former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun’s name from the Calhoun Honors College. It was rebranded as The Clemson University Honors College, per the News.
The protest of the name has been going on for years, but national demonstrations against police brutality and for racial justice brought a sense of urgency.
Calhoun served as the country’s seventh vice president, from 1825-1932, first under John Quincy Adams and then continuing under Andrew Jackson. He had also represented South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Calhoun was a slave owner and secessionist, and the college was named after him because his plantation became Clemson University.
“Slavery is indispensable to a republican government,” Calhoun is quoted as saying.
The petition noted Calhoun advocating for the expansion of slavery as a “positive good” on the U.S. senate floor and it said he “exemplifies institutional racism and white supremacy.”