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Bethany College to Remove Name of Former Ku Klux Klan Member From Building

Amid a national reckoning on racism, Bethany College said it will remove the name of Robert C. Byrd, once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, from the health center on campus.

Dr. Tamara RodenbergDr. Tamara Rodenberg

Byrd was a Senator from West Virginia and was part of the KKK in the 1940s. He later had a change of heart and became a supporter of civil rights.

The college said it was removing Byrd’s name because it “created divisiveness and pain for members of Bethany community, both past and present,” said Dr. Tamara Rodenberg, president of Bethany College in a statement.

She didn’t refer specifically to Byrd’s association with the KKK. But she cited President Barack Obama’s eulogy to him in 2010, during which the former president lauded Byrd for his “capacity to change, a capacity to learn, a capacity to listen, a capacity to be made more perfect.”

“These attributes about Senator Byrd’s legacy, however, are the same ones that lead us to remove a symbol of the past, and open our hearts and minds to equality, justice and equity,” Rodenberg said.

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