COLUMBIA, S.C. (WYFF) - Led by several former South Carolina football stars, a new Change.org petition is calling for the school’s Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center to be renamed.
Among the former Gamecocks are Marcus Lattimore, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey and Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis, all of whom shared a unified statement on social media Wednesday.
“To celebrate well known segregationist Strom Thurmond’s legacy by keeping his name on our Wellness Center sends a contradicting message to our black students @UofSC. We can no longer be held back by those whose ideals represent division. We must continue to fight for equality,” Lattimore tweeted.
As governor of South Carolina, Thurmond ran for president in 1948 as a segregationist "Dixiecrat," and in opposition of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, authored the longest filibuster by a single senator in American history, speaking for a total of 24 hours and 18 minutes.
Thurmond donated $10,000 toward the building of the $38.6 million fitness center, which opened in 1998.
This comes on the heels of a similar petition at Clemson, where former football stars Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins advocated changing the name of the Calhoun Honors College, named after slave-owning former Vice President John C. Calhoun. The Clemson Board of Trustees approved last Friday to remove Calhoun’s name and rename the honors program the Clemson University Honors College.