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