Shall We Overcome Calhoun?

Please share your comments below, concerning the renaming of Calhoun. Thanks.

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  • charles foster knight September 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Hello Henry C., I was going through some old accumulated letters and found a few from you to me back in 1963. I had just joined the Navy and was in the Pacific Fleet. Sorry to say that I never kept up the correspondence.

    My wife of 48 years and I live in Bristol, RI. We also have a place in the central historic distric in Merida Yucatan (to escape the winter during Nov 1 – April 30).

    What’s up with you?

  • James A. Wechsler July 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I am strongly opposed to renaming Calhoun because of the man’s views a century and a half ago. Although I find many of his views deplorable and even despicable, renaming the college is, I think, a disservice to the past, to the future, and to Yale. Calhoun is almost universally considered a giant – Secretary of War, Secretary of State, Vice President, Senator, major statesman, and intellectual. He should be honored and studied to understand both the arguments that overcame his views and to understand how a person with such robust intellectual powers could espouse the views he did on slavery. The presence of his name on campus makes many – most, nearly all – uncomfortable. Good. Neither history nor intellectual challenge is comfortable. If you want comfort, buy shoes that fit. If you want personal and intellectual growth, confront uncomfortable and disconcerting symbols and thoughts.

    [Explanatory note: Do not mistake my argument as one that can be easily tranferred to the recent public controversy over the Confederate flag. My opinion on that is that for a state government to fly the Confederate flag is very nearly an act of treason. Yes, I think I can defend that statement and my views on Calhoun college with contradiction.]

    • James A. Wechsler July 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Last sentence should read “without contradiction”

  • Henry C. Childs July 21, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Excruciatingly slow as change can occur, we have been witness to some heady advances in attitude in some parts of the country. My niece married a black guy (Yale ’92) more than 20 years ago and their four children have inherited our less than perfected world. I continue to fear for their futures, but I am equally less than sanguine about the future of all those who come after us. As our influence wanes, I know not what seeds of hope may bear fruit. It may well be time to turn to prayer.