Artist and White Advocate’s Name Purged at Radford University
John Powell (pictured) was an influential musician who championed Appalachian folk music. He also helped draft and pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. [His name is now being obliterated from a building, but it can never be obliterated from history or the rolls of honor. As the insanity of White guilt reaches its zenith among the (poorly) educated class, as this article excerpt shows, we will see more and more such cowardly and ignorant acts. — Kevin Alfred Strom. ]
RADFORD UNIVERSITY: Powell Hall is no more.
The name of one of Radford University’s arts and music buildings was stripped Friday by a unanimous vote of the school’s board of visitors.
The vote came five years after Radford history professor Richard Straw and his class discovered that the namesake of the building, John Powell, was an influential white supremacist [their term — Ed.] in Virginia.
Straw notified interim Provost Joe Scartelli, who was then dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, of the discovery in 2005, Scartelli said.
Almost immediately, plans were made to remove Powell’s name.
Since Powell and Porterfield halls are connected and were both scheduled for major renovation, the Powell name would simply be removed and the entire building henceforth would be known as Porterfield Hall, Scartelli said of the plan.
But when the renovation of those buildings was canceled in favor of construction of the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts, the renaming plan was forgotten.
“It really is nothing more or less than it just fell off my desk,” Scartelli said.
Then, two weeks ago, a Roanoke Times editorial writer called to inquire about the name.
“That bulb went on in my head immediately, and I realized: Oh, my God, I’ve got to do something about this,” Scartelli said.
The board passed the motion Friday to strip Powell’s name and create one Porterfield Hall.
According to board notes from 1967, Scartelli said, a faculty committee named the building after Powell, a renowned composer and musician who championed Appalachian folk music.
“I tend to think they would have no idea” about the extent of Powell’s advocacy of racism, Scartelli said.
But that is unclear.
Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was much in the news in 1967 when it was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling. That ruling struck down as unconstitutional the state’s ban on interracial marriage codified in the act. The act was not repealed until 1974.
Powell, as founder of the Richmond chapter of the Anglo-Saxon Club of America, was deeply involved in the drafting and passage of the act and was an ally of an infamous Virginia state registrar of vital statistics and eugenics advocate, Walter Plecker.
Both men were leaders in Virginia’s drive to “purify” society of the “polluting” influence of blacks, Virginia Indians and others deemed “undesirable,” “feebleminded,” or “mongrel,” according to attitudes prevalent at the time.
In a 1998 academic paper on the origins of Virginia’s White Top Folk Festival written by David Whisnant, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill English professor, Powell is quoted as warning of the “dangers of injecting into a white population a mass of primitive savages.”…
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