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Calhoun Who? Yale Drops Name of Slavery Advocate For Computer Pioneer

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Yale University's Hopper College.

Yale Universitys Calhoun College today will be rededicated as Hopper College, after Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a boundary-smashing computer pioneer and naval officer.

Credit: Jessica Hill/The New York Times

NEW HAVEN — In a dining hall at Yale University, the portrait of an avid proponent of slavery has been replaced with a shield depicting a heraldic dolphin.

On Tuesday, beneath the dolphin's fearsome eye, Yale's president and the Navy's chief of operations will make speeches, a chaplain will offer a blessing, and a secret ceremonial object will be unveiled.

With that, Yale's Calhoun College, named for John C. Calhoun — a vice president, senator from South Carolina, and founding forefather of the Civil War — will recede further into the New Haven university's past. The gothic stone building, one of the 14 residential colleges where undergraduates live and eat, will be dedicated as Hopper College, after Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, a boundary-smashing computer pioneer and naval officer. The dolphin on the Hopper College shield is a nod to her maritime career.

The ceremony caps a bitter, exhausting fight that included years of student protests, a smashed stained-glass window depicting slaves, a decision by Yale to keep Calhoun's name and then, in a reversal, to drop it.

And it comes at the end of a summer of unrest across much of the nation over how to remember and whether to honor those on the wrong moral side of the nation's greatest conflict.


From The New York Times
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