Winthrop Drops Name of White Supremacist from Award

Updated Dec 11, 2015

ROCK HILL, S.C. ― Winthrop University’s top academic award will no longer bear the name of avowed segregationist and former South Carolina governor “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman.

Media outlets report the university’s president Dan Mahony told faculty, staff and students in an email Friday that the university will discontinue the 75-year-old Tillman Award. Instead, the students with the highest GPA will receive a President’s Award for Excellence.

Mahony says there’s no money available to continue the Tillman award. He says Tillman’s controversial history wasn’t specifically discussed by the university board in October.

Tillman spent three decades ― from 1890 to 1918 ― as governor and as a U.S. senator. He bragged about his role in a lynch mob that killed seven Black Republicans as part of a voter intimidation scheme in what became known as the Hamburg Massacre in 1876.