Yale University
[Representational Image]Reuters

After decades of protests, Yale University announced that it will change the name of Calhoun College, named after John Calhoun, a Yale valedictorian-turned-politician from South Carolina and a white supremacist who promoted slavery. 

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The university said on Saturday (Feb 11) that the college will be renamed after Grace Murray Hopper, a Yale doctorate and a computer scientist who also served as US Navy rear admiral.

Yale President Peter Salovey said: "The decision to change a college's name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun's legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a 'positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale's mission and values."

This decision reverses Salovey's announcement last year that the name of Calhoun College would remain.

However, he said he was still concerned about erasing history. 

"At that time, as now, I was committed to confronting, not erasing, our history. I was concerned about inviting a series of name changes that would obscure Yale's past," said Salovey. 

The name of Calhoun College has long been a subject of discussion and controversy on the Yale campus. John C. Calhoun (1804 B.A., 1822 LL.D.) had served as the US vice president, secretary of state, secretary of war and a US senator. Yet, he left behind the legacy of a leading statesman who used his office to advocate ardently for slavery and White supremacy. 

Many Black students had staged demonstrations as soon as the college opened in 1933, referring to the college, which was decorated with depictions of slaves carrying bales of cotton, as the "Calhoun Plantation". 

In 2015, after the killing of nine worshippers at a Black church in Charleston by an avowed White supremacist, protests erupted again and that resulted in the removal of the Confederate battle flag outside the South Carolina State House and elsewhere. 

That also left Yale in a renewed debate over its historical ties to slavery and the symbols of that affiliation.