Christian Chronicle

After George Floyd’s death, petition to rename Harding auditorium gains support

Alumnus calls the daily chapel venue’s namesake ‘a vocal racist and supporter of segregation.’

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

After the videoed killing of George Floyd, Jackson House couldn’t stay silent any longer.

The 2014 graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Ark., first learned during his student days of claims of racism against the late George S. Benson, whose name adorns the Christian university’s main auditorium.

But this week, House, a 28-year-old white Christian, took action.

He launched a petition on calling for Harding, which is associated with Churches of Christ, to remove Benson’s name from the building where students gather for daily chapel. 

“What really motivated me to do this now is just the overwhelming silence of many white Churches of Christ in response to the killing of George Floyd,” said House, referring to the black man whose May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody sparked national outrage and protests against racial injustice. Video footage captured a white police officer jamming his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

By late Friday afternoon, 16,000 signatories had endorsed House’s proposal to rename Benson Auditorium in honor of Botham Jean. The 2016 Harding graduate, who was black, was shot to death in his Dallas apartment by a white police officer on Sept. 6, 2018. Harding President Bruce McLarty knew Jean well and delivered the closing prayer at the beloved Dallas West Church of Christ member’s funeral.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the July edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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