University of Wisconsin Removes 70-Ton Chamberlin Rock Seen as Symbol of Racism

Crews work to remove Chamberlin Rock from Observatory Hill on the UW-Madison campus in Madison, Wisconsin. (Kayla Wolf/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

The University of Wisconsin has removed a 70-ton boulder from its Madison campus at the request of minority students who viewed the rock — which was referred to by a slur for blacks — as a symbol of racism.

Chamberlin Rock atop Observatory Hill — named after Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, a 19th-century geologist and former university president — was at least once referred to as a “n—–head” rock in a 1925 article in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Minority students have complained that the rock represents a history of discrimination. The derogatory term was commonly used during the 1920s to describe any large, dark rock.

University historians have not found any other time that the term was used, but they said the Ku Klux Klan was active on campus at that time, according to the newspaper.

University Chancellor Rebecca Blank approved removing Chamberlin Rock in January but the Wisconsin Historical Society needed to sign off because it was located within 15 feet of a Native American burial site.

The massive rock — a rare example of a pre-Cambrian era glacial erratic that experts say is likely over 2 billion years old — will be placed on university-owned land southeast of Madison near Lake Kegonsa, where it will continue to be used for educational purposes.

“Removing the rock as a monument in a prominent location prevents further harm to our community while preserving the rock’s educational research value for our current and future students,” Gary Brown, director of campus planning and landscape architecture, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

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SOURCE: New York Post, Yaron Steinbuch