Yale University, John C. Calhoun, President Peter Salovey, and Slavery

Black students and others at Yale University are protesting. They are protesting the decision by Yale to keep the name Calhoun College as the name of one of their residential colleges. So what do they think is wrong with that? They don’t think that it’s right for Yale to have one of its residential colleges named after an aggressive defender of slavery. To be aggressive means to be vey strong in trying to make sure that something happens or does not happen.

When “America” has looked at these kinds of questions before it has decided them in the same way. Let’s talk about it. Let’s not upset anyone. Let’s keep things the same. This has been the way slavery has been handled from the beginning in America. The result? Nothing changes. We move from compromise to half measures to Civil War to Jim Crow to Civil Rights to……. to the status quo. The status quo is when nothing changes.

Yale is one of the great universities in America. It was started in 1701. It was a great place of learning and education before the United States became a country. It was a place where many of the great men of the past in our country were educated. In many respects to review the history of Yale is to review the history of America before and after it became a country.

One of the ways that great universities like Yale keep going is to honor people that have gone to school there. They are proud of them. They want others to be proud of them. They name buildings after them. They ask people to give them money in the person’s name. When they do that they are saying that they agree with that person’s character and way of life. Character is what a person really is when no one is watching them to make sure they are doing the right thing.

So what’s next? Your guess is a good as mine. Since our nation has never faced up to its history of slavery there are a lot of things all over the country that honor people that owned other people. Calhoun College is just the one in the news right now.