A presidential task force addressing anti-racism, equity and inclusion at Florida State University voted Wednesday afternoon against forwarding a recommendation to remove Doak Campbell’s name from the football stadium.
The vote was 12-7.
The task force’s Historical Legacy Subcommittee earlier had deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on whether Campbell’s name should be removed from the stadium.
The full panel did vote to recommend that the university and the Athletics Department institute a “high-profile” recognition of black and other underrepresented minority student athletes at the stadium.
Maxine Montgomery, who chairs the task force, will present a list of about 25 recommendations on other subjects to President John Thrasher for his review by Friday.
The decision comes as the President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion concludes its term.
“Regarding the specific recommendation for President Doak Campbell, I will remain disappointed for several reasons,” said FSU College of Medicine student Cortez Brown, who served on the Historical Legacy subcommittee.
“Our goal was to move the university forward as opposed to focusing on our past,” he said. “I sincerely believe our university is focused on equity and inclusion and I respectfully do not believe Doak Campbell’s actions in 1957 reflect those values.”
Naming issue has been contentious
Wednesday’s vote on Campbell’s name has been a contentious issue for the board and its Historical Legacy Committee.
The naming issue resurfaced during a lengthy discussion by members of the Historical Legacy Subcommittee in March, when members of the subcommittee voted 6-2 to reject a recommendation by FSU history professor and subcommittee chair Maxine Jones to leave the name.
Campbell’s legacy came into question last year when former FSU linebacker and current Lynn University associate professor Kendrick Scott created a petition to remove Campbell’s name.
More:Former Florida State football player creates petition to rename Doak Campbell Stadium
Scott, other former athletes and current students objected to Campbell’s name on the stadium, saying that as president he simply followed state rules in keeping campuses segregated.
Campbell served as president 1941-57, when segregation was the ruling culture in Florida politics and at its public universities.
During an April 14 meeting, Jones introduced a new recommendation, again supporting keeping Campbell’s name on the stadium, but also including public recognition of Black and other minority athletes and their contributions to the success of FSU football.
During the meeting, it was explained that the March vote objecting to the name was not formally recommended for advancement to the full board for a vote, therefore making it moot.
Jones said her revised recommendation, which recommended keeping Campbell’s name, was based on a set of principles agreed on in 2018 by the previous President’s Advisory Panel on University Namings and Recognitions.
In sum, “there is no ethical reason to remove the name ‘Doak Campbell Stadium,” she said.
Jones said her research on Campbell did find that he:
- Backed the expulsion of FSU graduate student John Boardman for going against campus rules in 1957 and bringing three Black FAMU students to a Christmas party on campus. (Campbell offered Boardman a chance to stay if he followed the rules, which he refused.)
- Discouraged FSU students from getting involved in social protests with FAMU students at the time. Both campuses were racially segregated at the time.
- Discouraged the campus newspaper from editorializing in support of desegregation.
But Jones also pointed out Campbell was supportive of Florida A&M University and had good relationships with its presidents, William Gray and George Gore. He also was appointed by Gov. LeRoy Collins to serve on a race relations advisory committee.
Jones’ recommendation at the April 14 meeting failed to get consideration.
Brown, who has staunchly supported removing Campbell’s name, countered Jones’ recommendation with his own, recommending the name be removed, while having Campbell honored elsewhere on campus.
That recommendation was met with the 3-3 deadlock.
Previous panel had deadlocked on Campbell name
During Wednesday’s meeting, Montgomery proposed sending the deadlocked recommendation to Thrasher to decide, with context added explaining the Historical Legacy committee’s previous votes on the issue.
Her recommendation read:
“We recommend the permanent removal of the name Doak S. Campbell from public display at the football stadium. We also endorse the inclusion of recognition for Campbell’s contributions to the University at the Heritage Museum or another designated museum.”
Following discussion on the merits of sending a deadlocked vote to Thrasher, the full board voted down the measure.
“The President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion voted against forwarding to President Thrasher the recommendation leading to the deadlocked subcommittee vote on Doak Campbell Stadium,” Montgomery said in an email following the meeting.
“But the larger Task Force voted in favor of forwarding a recommendation for a high-profile recognition of Black or underrepresented minority athletes at the stadium.”
Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at [email protected] or on Twitter @byrondobson.