Currently, the University of Alabama’s Department of English is housed in Morgan Hall, named after John Tyler Morgan. Morgan was a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and post-war, a six-term senator from the state of Alabama. He was also a Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan, and used his legislative power to promote racist policies and practices. He advocated sending African-Americans out of the United States and into Hawaii, the Philippines, or Cuba, all the while promoting racial segregation domestically as well. He worked to curtail the voting rights of African-Americans, hoping to repeal the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Upon the death of Harper Lee, who attended the University of Alabama from 1945-1949, the University has an amazing chance to show our support for racial equality, as well as to honor the legacy generally of a woman who promoted kindness and empathy for all. Lee was doubtless the University’s greatest contribution to literature, and it would be more than fitting for our English building to bear her name, which reflects so much more accurately the values of the University of Alabama, than that of white supremacist John Tyler Morgan.