Rhodes College renames building to honor college’s legacy

Rhodes College renames building to honor college’s legacy

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -A building on the Rhodes College campus has undergone a name change. What was once Palmer Hall is now Southwestern Hall.

While its architecture may be worth celebrating, the Rhodes College Board of Trustees decided Friday the name of this structure shouldn’t be.

“We take it extremely seriously here when we do any changes," said Milton Moreland, Provost of Rhodes College & VP of Academic Affairs.

After years of evaluating the potential of changing the names of various buildings on campus the Palmer Hall Discernment Committee recommended Palmer Hall be renamed.

“A lot of people studied this history and tried to understand what would be best for the college moving forward,” he said.

In an email sent to students and alumni, the committee said the principal legacy of Benjamin Palmer was “fundamentally at odds with our college vision.”

“He was most famous for being a minister who advocated slavery and segregation," said Moreland.

Palmer’s Thanksgiving sermon in 1860 defended slavery and endorsed secession and is said to have influenced Louisiana to join the Confederate States of America.

“This was a very important moment for us and a testament to all of the students and the faculty, staff and the alumni, and the board who took a very deep dive into this question and made this recommendation,” said Moreland.

The building’s new name, Southwestern Hall, honors the college’s former name from 1945 to 1984.

The committee said they reviewed every comment about the renaming process - received through online submission forms, emails and educational events on campus. A new plaque will be commissioned at Southwestern Hall to add context to Palmer’s history with Rhodes.

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