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‘MTSU On the Record’ hears author’s view of Forres...

‘MTSU On the Record’ hears author’s view of Forrest Hall, Confederate symbols

A recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program stepped back to take a holistic view of an ongoing university controversy.

Connor Towne O’Neill, author, University of Auburn professor

Connor Towne O’Neill

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Connor Towne O’Neill, author of “Down with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy,” first aired Oct. 27 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

You can listen to their conversation via the Soundcloud link above.

O’Neill’s book dedicates a substantial portion of its text to the struggle over MTSU’s Forrest Hall, home of the university’s ROTC classrooms and Department of Military Science offices.

An instructor in the Department of English at Auburn University, O’Neill’s book chronicles the decades-long struggle over naming the building after Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest and MTSU’s prior historic embrace of Confederate iconography.

WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 FM logoHe also documents the events up to and including the most recent 2017 attempt by student activists to get Forrest’s name removed from the ROTC building.

“It seemed like a natural story to follow, and it turned out to be a really compelling one,” O’Neill said. “I think the protest movement that the students put on and the way that this debate over Forrest was framed at MTSU was really fascinating and revealing.”

In February 2018, the Tennessee Historical Commission rejected MTSU’s request to change the name in line with the recommendation of a special task force formed by President Sidney A. McPhee to address the issue.

Sarah E. Calise, archivist, Political and Regional Collections, Albert Gore Research Center at MTSU

Sarah Calise

Joshua Crutchfield, alumnus

Joshua Crutchfield

O’Neill participated in an Oct. 14 virtual book talk sponsored by MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center via videoconference.

Other participants included Sarah Calise, political and regional archivist for the Gore Center, and Joshua Crutchfield, one of the 2017 student activists, both of whom are quoted in the book. Crutchfield is now a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

Students march to the home of MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee on March 24, 2016, following the final meeting of the Forrest Hall Task Force to discuss the possibility of renaming the building that houses MTSU’s military science program. (Photo courtesy of the Albert Gore Research Center)

Students march to the home of MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee on March 24, 2016, following the final meeting of the Forrest Hall Task Force to discuss the possibility of renaming the building that houses MTSU’s military science program. (Photo courtesy of the Albert Gore Research Center)

In this August 2015 file photo, MTSU students, alumni and others wanting to change the name of Forrest Hall walk in an organized protest from the Student Union Commons to the building that houses the military science program. Forrest Hall is named for Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

In this August 2015 file photo, MTSU students, alumni and others seeking to change the name of Forrest Hall walk in an organized protest from the Student Union Commons to the building that houses the military science program. Forrest Hall is named for Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)


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