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UT strips Klansman’s name from Austin dorm

By The Associated Press

This article was published July 15, 2010 at 5:16 p.m.

— University of Texas regents have stripped the name of a former law school professor and early organizer of the Ku Klux Klan from a campus dormitory.

The vote Thursday in Austin was unanimous.

The residence hall named after William Stewart Simkins will now be known as Creekside Residence Hall. The two-story brick building was constructed in the 1950s near Waller Creek.

Simkins, who was a Confederate colonel, helped organize the Klan in Florida after the Civil War. He taught law at Texas from 1899-1929 and gave speeches and wrote papers promoting the Klan and terrorizing blacks.

Regents also voted to change the name of Simkins Park, a small green space next to the dorm that had been named after Simkins’ brother, Eldred Simkins, who served on the university board from 1882-1896.

Gregory Vincent, Texas vice president for diversity and engagement, said the Simkins Hall sign outside the building would likely be removed by the end of Friday.

The name change came after weeks of deliberations by an advisory panel and two public hearings.

The issue sparked in May after former Texas law professor Tom Russell published an online article detailing resistance by the university to integration in the 1950s and 1960s. Texas named the dorm after Simkins in 1954, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision ended legal segregation.

In a campus speech in 1914 and an article two years later in the alumni magazine, Simkins said he never drew blood as a Klansman. He did, however, admit to assaulting a black man, participating in a train robbery and sowing fear in Florida’s “black belt” as a masked night rider.

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