OU Students To Petition For Name Change
A Norman, OK street named after a former professor at the University of Oklahoma has come under protest recently, with the professor’s ties to the Klu Klux Klan being the cause. The University’s student government is preparing to present a resolution to the City of Norman Human Rights Commission to change the name of DeBarr Avenue, named after one of the first professors at the University, Edwin DeBarr, who while one of the founding staff members of the University rose to the level of KKK Grand Wizard of Oklahoma.
DeBarr, who was the University’s first Dean of Pharmacy, was forced out of his position in 1923, due to his involvement with the Klan. DeBarr, who had a PhD in chemistry, was one of the first four professors hired by OU in 1892, and established the schools Chemistry and Chemical Engineering departments. DeBarr was also the founder of OU’s School of Pharmacy, and also taught Biology, Physics and Medicine during his tenure. He also served as Vice-President of the University from 1909 to 1923, but was dismissed in 1923 after it became public knowledge that he had been named the Grand Dragon of Oklahoma, and had publicly campaigned for a Klan-supported candidate for Governor of Oklahoma.
In 1988, student and faculty protests forced the University’s removal of DeBarr’s name from a University Chemistry building, after his affiliation with the KKK became “common” knowledge. Recent protests have included covering street signs baring the name DeBarr Ave, one of the main roads through the campus. The student council passed a resolution in September, calling for the name change. Also on board with the change is Norman City Councilwoman Breea Clark, who posted an online petition calling for the change in March.
The student council council is planning to present the resolution to the Human Rights Council next week.