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Rename Murray and North Murray Hall at Oklahoma state University

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Murray hall and North Murray Hall on the Campus of Oklahoma state university were named after William H Murray, the 9th governor of the state of Oklahoma and one of the founders of the state.


Governor Murray was also a racist, Anti –Semitic, Anti-education governor who was at the forefront of instituting Jim Crow laws and segregation in the State of Oklahoma. His many egregious views and actions are listed below:




Murray was a racial demagogue who led the battle for segregation at the Constitutional Convention, led the battle for Jim Crow and the disenfranchisement of African-Americans in the early statehood period.


Here is how Murray addressed the 1906 Constitutional Convention. "As a rule they [African-Americans; are failures as lawyers, doctors and in other professions. He must be taught in the line of his own sphere, as porters, bootblacks and barbers and many lines of agriculture, horticulture and mechanics in which he is an adept, but it is an entirely false notion that the negro can rise to the equal of a white man in the professions or become an equal citizen to grapple with public questions. The more they are taught in the line of industry the less will be the number of dope fiends, crap shooters and irresponsible hordes of worthless Negroes around our cities and towns." (Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of the Proposed State of Oklahoma Held at Guthrie, Oklahoma November 20; 1906 to November 16, 1907 (Muskogee, Indian Territory: Muskogee Printing Company, 1907):21)


This leads to a serious question as to whether Murray simply represented the times and the attitudes of Oklahomans generally. Those who do not support Murray feel most Oklahomans were not, and are not, racial bigots.


Here is some of the evidence we draw upon for the view that most Oklahomans did not share Murray's- racial views.


--There was no Jim Crow in the Territory. All efforts to legislate territorial Jim Crow were defeated.


--Mandatory school segregation was only accomplished at the end of the Territorial period and after more than a decade of struggle


—The legislature perpetrated electoral fraud to disenfranchise African-Americans in 1910 with the grandfather clause referendum. Rather than choosing between 'For the Amendment' or 'Against the Amendment,' voters, for the first time, were required to cross out "For the Amendment" On the ballot there was no indication that this was required. In those days, any marks other than a stamped X, invalidated a ballot. I was able to estimate 63,005 blank ballots were counted as favoring and that the measure actually lost 40.5% to 59.4%.


-In 1916, a similar measure to disenfranchise African-Americans went to the voters. Oklahomans, by then alert to the trick, rejected the measure 40.49% to 59.51%. This is almost identical to my estimate for 1910.


-Oklahoma juries convicted election officials who used the Grandfather Clause to disenfranchise African-Americans and sent them to the prison at Leavenworth.




In the territorial and early statehood periods there were two views. One was that the very presence of African-Americans or any evidence of African-American equality with whites promoted 'Friction' manifesting itself in white violence. This could be avoided by African-Americans staying in their place.' Murray's was a blame-the-victim argument for racial violence. "I appreciate the old-time ex-slave, the old darky -- and they are the salt of their race -- who comes to me talking softly in that humble spirit which should characterize their actions and dealings with the white man, and when they thus come they can get any favor from me. When a Negro says to me: "Set 'em up," or taps me on the shoulder as would an equal friend I would want to land on his shins." (Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of the Proposed State of Oklahoma Held at Guthrie,  Oklahoma November 20, 1906 to November 16, 1907 (Muskogee, Indian Territory:  Muskogee Printing Company, 1907):21)


The other view, a view I feel was held by the majority of Oklahomans in the Territorial and early statehood period, just as today, was that African-Americans should be tolerated and that mob violence against African-Americans should not be tolerated.




Murray was an anti-Semite. In 1947 he published a book advocating the US adopt Adolf Eichmann's Madagascar Plan. American Jews would lose their citizenship and be shipped to Africa. Throughout his career he was hostile not only to African-Americans but also Jews. "Deal with the Jewish problem by giving them ... Madagascar Island ... on condition that all Jews shall become nationals of such Jewish state (with one exception that Jews and their families who came to America prior to 1900 shall retain, if they desire, their American citizenship)." (Palestine: Shall Arabs or Jews control it or America Admit 100,000 Communist Jews from behind the iron curtain?  Tishomingo, OK: William H. Murray, 1947):43.)


World War II


In 1940 Murray saw the up-side of Hitler conquering France and England. This was explicitly linked to his anti-Semitism.


"[Murray] advocated an immediate trade treaty with Japan, with politics left out of it"


"Murray ... predicted that Germany will win the war: that Italy will get Egypt, Tunisia and the Suez Canal; that war's end will find only three strong nations left in Europe, Russia, Germany and Italy, and that Germany and Italy will check communism. [Murray] declared that if the war is prolonged for a year or more 'they'll all be so exhausted communism will sweep over Europe, threaten the world, and the Dark Ages will set in again,"


“‘England and France ... were unprepared for war because 'they undertook to rule their governments with Jews and Communists ... we're repeating the same mistake here


“‘Suppose Germany should capture the British Isles ...Do you think Australia and New Zealand and Canada would continue to send to England for goods, or prefer to come to America for them? We'd be the hub of the English-speaking peoples " ("Murray Sees U.S. as Hub of English World: Allied Defeat, Which he Predicts, Viewed as Harmless. “The Oklahoman June 18, 1940 page 3.)




Murray was at best self-educated and hostile to what we see as our educational mission at OSU. He favored education to trades. I have read much of his work and find it to be cobbled together newspaper clippings, pamphlets and incoherent ramblings masquerading as scholarship. There is no continuity of thought and no narrative structure. He tells readers "I do not want my country governed by any minority race in this Republic there are places for all, even the Negro and the Jew, but not in policy framing." (The Negro's Place in Call of Race, Tishomingo, 1948) Murray delivers himself of this opinion without any background reasoning that will along the reader along with his chain of thought. For Murray, it is sufficient to give forth what he thinks without giving the reader any reason to agree with him. Some of our freshmen write that way and we faculty are at pains to show them that their unsupported opinions are less persuasive than a well-crafted argument. The well-crafted argument, in fact, is a corrective to ignorant and fatuous opinions picked up here and there. Murray's writings, by eschewing reasoned discourse for mere opinion reveal his contempt for education not only for what he considers inferior races, the African-American and the Jew, but for everyone.




There are many African-Americans, Jews, educated people, who are shamed by OSU's continued embrace of Murray. So many of our students, African-American and white, come who think Murray was a great Oklahoman. They never heard of civil rights heroes such as Clara Luper. They tell me that is what they get from high school history. The view previously held by key OSU vice presidents that Murray is the single most important person in Oklahoma history in regard to how our State government at all levels was formed ~ and therefore deserves two buildings forming the gateway to our campus bear his name, implies that Murray's admittedly great influence was to the good, it was not.


Murray's constitution held Oklahoma back. It took decades to overcome Murray's negative impact on academic excellence in Oklahoma's higher education. He did not even want our higher education to be accredited. Many feel we still have not overcome the disaster of the Murray years. Oklahoma has not yet overcome the legacy of Murray's racial demagoguery and the racist institutions he fostered. It was not the noble poverty-stricken characters in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath that gave Okies their terrible reputation. It was Murray's nationally visible anti-Semitism, his racial demagoguery, the aid and comfort he gave Nazis during the Second World War, and his rants against the Roosevelt administration that gave Oklahomans a reputation for ignorant backwardness.


I hope that OSU's position is not the final word on Murray. As presented, their view denies so much history, a painful history for so many of us. Their denial adds to the hurt and prolongs Murray's harm.

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