The University of Maryland could become the latest focal point in the national conversation about racial dynamics on college campuses. In a letter to the university community, President Wallace Loh called for the Terps’ football stadium to be renamed “Maryland Stadium” due to the racist views of the stadium’s current namesake, former president and football coach H.C. “Curley” Byrd.
Loh’s proposal, which is outlined in a letter to the university community, follows a student-run campaign that began last spring. According to reporting by UMD’s Diamondback, Byrd denied a black student entrance to the university in 1935. Two years later, Maryland administrators threatened to cancel a game in College Park if Syracuse Orangemen star Wilmeth Sidat-Singh would take the field, Deadspin reports. In his formal recommendation, Loh writes that Byrd “was an ardent proponent of ‘separate but equal’ education, both as president and later in his campaign for governor of Maryland.”
However, Loh also notes Byrd’s epitaph: “Father and Builder of the Greater Consolidated University of Maryland, founded in 1920.” He was associated with the university for more than 40 years, pushing to merge state schools into a single university, broadening the size and reach of the campus and making the Terrapin the school’s mascot, among other things.
Given Byrd’s influence, Loh proposes honoring him in the library. Loh writes that the stadium is the university’s “front porch,” and naming it after Byrd “conveys a racial message hidden in plain sight.” Along with the stadium proposal, Loh proposes a five-year moratorium on renaming university symbols.
“This is a difficult and emotion-laden issue,” he writes. “Any outcome will likely please few.”
Though the president is now on board, the renaming is not a done deal. The University’s Board of Regents will vote on the proposal at a meeting on Friday.
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