University of Wisconsin moves rock seen as symbol of racism

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – The University of Wisconsin removed a large boulder from its Madison campus on Friday …

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – The University of Wisconsin on Friday removed a large rock from its Madison campus at the behest of minority students who see the rock as a symbol of racism.

Chamberlin Rock, at the top of Observatory Hill, is named after Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, geologist and former university president. Students of color on campus say the rock represents a story of discrimination. The rock was called a derogatory name for blacks in a Wisconsin State Journal article in 1925.

The derogatory term was commonly used in the 1920s to describe any large dark rock. University historians couldn’t find another time the term was used, but they did say the Ku Klux Klan was active on campus at that time, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

University Chancellor Rebecca Blank approved the removal of Chamberlin Rock in January, but the Wisconsin Historical Society had to approve because the rock was located within 4.6 meters (15 feet) of a burial site American Indian.

The rock will be placed on university land southeast of Madison, near Lake Kegonsa. The university plans to erect a plaque at Chamberlin Hall in honor of the former president of the university, school spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said.

The boulder is a rare and important example of an erratic Precambrian-era ice block that experts say is probably over 2 billion years old. It was carried by glaciers from as far north as Canada and dumped on Observatory Hill along with billions of tons of other debris when the ice receded from the state about 12,000 years ago. It was previously estimated to weigh up to 70 tonnes, but an updated measurement shows it to weigh 42 tonnes. It will continue to be used for educational purposes on its new site.

The Union of Black Students launched the call to remove the rock last summer. Crews began removing it just before 7 a.m. on Friday, securing it with straps and lifting it with a crane before moving it to a flatbed truck. It cost about $ 50,000, covered by private donations, to remove.

Juliana Bennett, senior and campus representative on Madison City Council, said the rock pullout was a small step towards a more inclusive campus.

“This moment concerns the students, past and present, who have pleaded tirelessly for the removal of this racist monument,” she said. “Now is the time for all of us BIPOC students to breathe a sigh of relief, to be proud of our endurance and to begin to heal. “

Kenneth Owens, a resident of Madison, said he was happy to see the rock go,

“It’s not the rock’s fault that he received this terrible and unfortunate nickname,” he said. “But the fact that he’s … out of place shows the world is getting a little better today.”

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