Remove Sen. Jesse Helms Name from Chowan University Campus
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Former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms was a known racist and bigot whose time in Congress led to a plethora of disadvantages to communities of color. Sen. Helms led a sixteen day filibuster in 1983 to oppose recognizing the Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday as a national holiday. Additionally, he opposed federal intervention into what he considered "state affairs" including legislating integration via the Civil Rights Act, and enforcing suffrage through the Voting Rights Act. In fact, Helms called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress", and sponsored legislation to either extend it to the entire country or scrap it altogether. He has been accused of being a segregationist by some political observers and scholars, such as USA Today's DeWayne Wickham who wrote that Helms "subtly carried the torch of white supremacy" from Ben Tillman. Lastly but not least, In July 1993, Helms made several attempts to extend a patent on the United Daughters of the Confederacy insignia, which included the Confederate flag, and needed to be renewed every 14 years. Initially it had been a rider on a bill for Olestra, a fat substitute, but Carol Moseley Braun, then a freshman Senator and the only black one, discovered it and removed it in committee. Helms then introduced it directly onto the Senate floor, proposing an amendment to the national service bill, which would provide educational grants in return for various forms of service. With many senators unaware of what they were voting on, he won a test vote, 52 to 48. These are just a few things Helms attempted to suppress communities of color.
During this time of racial unrest and social injustice his name should no longer have a place at Chowan University.
71.3% of student at Chowan University are black. By continuing to allow Sen. Helms name to grace the name of a building on campus, we are accepting bigotry, suppression, and celebrating the life of a known racist on a Christian campus.
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