Former Clemson football players DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson want the school to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the school's honors college. On Instagram, Hopkins mentioned Calhoun was a slave owner and the reason he doesn't mention Clemson when he's introduced during NFL games. Hopkins and Watson shared a link on Change.org where people can petition to get the name changed.
"Clemson University still honors the name of well known slave owner and pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun on its buildings, signs, and in the name of its honors program," Hopkins wrote. "I felt this oppressive figure during my time at Clemson and purposely do not mention the University's name before NFL games because of it." Hopkins went onto saying he signed the petition, which has over 17,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. He also urges "all Clemson students, football players, and alumni to join us, so the next generation of young Black leaders can be proud of the institution they graduate from."
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Watson echoed what Hopkins said on Twitter. "Clemson University should not honor slave owner John C. Calhoun in any way," Watson wrote. "His name should be removed from all University property and programming. I am joining the students, faculty & DeAndre to restart this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College." Calhoun was a Vice President of the United States, serving under John Quincy Adams from 1825 to 1829. He was known for defending slavery, calling it "a positive good." According to his bio on Clemson's website: "The Clemson University campus is built on Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation. Calhoun not only owned an antebellum southern agricultural plantation of over 1,000 acres of land, but also some 70-80 enslaved African-Americans."
Hopkins and Watson know each other very well as they were Houston Texans teammates from 2017-2019. Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year, which was one of the most surprising moves on the NFL offseason. Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, being named to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro Team four times.
As for Watson, he's emerging as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league. After a knee injury ended his 2017 season early, Watson was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2019 and led the Texans to the playoffs both seasons.