University of Richmond removes T.C. Williams from law school name

The University of Richmond has removed the name of T.C. Williams from its law school, the latest effort by the private university to modify campus names tied to slavery and racism.

Last week, UR’s board of trustees voted to change the name of the T.C. Williams School of Law to the University of Richmond School of Law.

“We recognize that some may be disappointed or disagree with this decision,” university President Kevin Hallock and the board wrote in a letter to the community. “We also recognize the role the Williams family has played here and respect the full and complete history of the institution.”

University of Richmond changing names of six campus buildings linked to slavery, racism

In March, UR changed the names of six campus buildings, a year after students and faculty protested. Among the buildings renamed were Ryland Hall and Freeman Hall. Robert Ryland, the school’s first president in 1840, owned slaves. Freeman, a trustee from 1925 to 1950, advocated for segregation, eugenics and prohibiting interracial marriage.

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Last year, the university wrote a new policy for names on campus, prohibiting any building, program or entity to be named for a person who engaged in or advocated for slavery.

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Thomas C. Williams attended Richmond College from 1846-49 and was a trustee in the 1880s. He operated tobacco businesses in Richmond and elsewhere called Patterson & Williams and Thomas C. Williams & Co.

According to tax records, Williams’ business owned 25 to 40 enslaved people.

After his death, his family made a gift to UR that helped establish the law school. When Richmond College became the University of Richmond in 1920, it began referring to the law school as the T.C. Williams School of Law.

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The T.C. Williams whose name stood on the law school was not the same T.C. Williams named on an Alexandria high school. The high school, featured in the movie “Remember the Titans,” recognized Thomas Chambliss Williams, who was the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Last year, the Alexandria school district renamed the building Alexandria City High School, acknowledging that Thomas Chambliss Williams resisted the integration of schools.

It’s unclear if the two men are related. The University of Richmond is not aware of a connection between the two, a spokesperson for the university said.

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