Harding University won’t rename building after alumnus killed in shooting

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SEARCY, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ largest private college says it won’t change the name of a building that pays homage to a former school president who opposed integration.

A petition from a graduate of Harding University had sought to rename the George S. Benson Auditorium after Harding alumnus Botham Jean (pictured).

Jean was a black man killed in his living room in 2018 by a white Dallas police officer who said she mistook his apartment as her own.

Harding University President Bruce McLarty wrote a letter to the campus last week saying the name change won’t happen.

According to the Central Arkansas Library System’s Encylopedia of Arkansas, Benson, the second president of Harding, initially resisted overtures by students and faculty to begin the process of desegregating Harding while he was leading the school. In 1963, two years before his retirement, the school began accepting its first black students.

McLarty says he plans to honor Jean “prominently and permanently” on campus but hasn’t determined how.

To learn more about Botham Jean, visit the Botham Jean Foundation’s website by clicking here.

Featured file image via Botham Jean Foundation

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