Former Clemson players DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson are petitioning the university to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the school’s honors college, with Hopkins noting that the slave owner’s influence is the reason he does not mention the university’s name when he’s introduced before NFL games.
Calhoun, who served as vice president under John Quincy Adams from 1825 to 1829, advocated for slavery, saying it was “a positive good.” The Clemson campus is built on Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation, where, according to his bio on the school’s website, he enslaved 70-80 African Americans.
“I felt this oppressive figure during my time at Clemson and purposely do not mention the University’s name before NFL games because of it,” Hopkins wrote on Instagram. “I am joining the voices of the students and faculty who have restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College. I urge all Clemson students, football players, and alumni to join us, so the next generation of young Black leaders can be proud of the institution they graduate from. Now is the time for change.”
Both Hopkins and Watson, former teammates with the Houston Texans before Hopkins was traded during the offseason to the Arizona Cardinals, tweeted a link to a Change.org petition that demands that Clemson “remove John C. Calhoun’s name from one of our most distinguished academic programs.”
The petition says that “Clemson University President James P. Clements recently stated that Clemson will not tolerate racism ‘in any form,'” and that Calhoun’s words and actions contradict that.
“Clemson University should not honor slave owner John C. Calhoun in any way,” Watson tweeted Monday. “His name should be removed from all University property and programming. I am joining the students, faculty & DeAndre to restart this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College.”
Hopkins acknowledged in his Instagram post that seeing Calhoun represented at Clemson “has been bothering me for a long time.”