TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A former Florida State football player has launched a drive to rename the university's stadium, asserting in a petition that the man it is named for, Doak S. Campbell, was a segregationist.
Kendrick Scott, who was a linebacker for the school from 1991 to 1994, wants Campbell's name removed from the stadium.
Campbell served as president of Florida State College for Women when he led its transition in 1947 to a coed campus renamed as Florida State University, now one of the state's largest.
With a capacity for more than 79,000 spectators, the stadium is said to be the largest structure constructed out of bricks in the United States.
The stadium makes frequent appearances on television because of the highly ranked football squads that have played there.
By noon Saturday, Scott’s petition on change.org had nearly reached its goal of 1,500 signatures. On Monday, the goal was raised to 2,500 and more than 2,100 people had signed.
In an email to the Tallahassee Democrat, Scott noted that most of the student-athletes on the FSU’s team are Black, adding that they are forced to play in a stadium named after a man who, he said, did not accord value to Black lives.
In his petition, Scott contends that Doak's segregationist views are divisive. “Therefore views his name should be removed from a stadium that has been home to many Black football players helping to build the school and the tradition to what it has become today: a national treasure.”
Scott suggests renaming the stadium for the team's former coach Bobby Bowden, whose name already graces the field in the stadium.
Monday afternoon, Florida State president John Thrasher put out this statement on social media, essentially pushing the issue to the athletic director, Davd Coburn:
As the country undergoes a public reckoning over racism because of high-profile police killings of Blacks, many of the country's institutions have begun reconsidering their roles in the national conversation over race.
On Thursday, the University of Florida said it was ending its “gator bait” cheer at football games and other sporting events because of its racial overtones.
The link to racism is borne out by news articles in years past. For example, in 1923, Time Magazine published a story about how “colored babies were being used for alligator bait” in Chipley, Florida.
Earlier this month, members of Florida State’s football team led a unity walk from the stadium to the Florida Capitol.