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LSU's Troy H. Middleton Library, located in the quad, photographed Thursday, June 11, 2020, on campus in Baton Rouge, La.

Descendants of Troy H. Middleton — the man for whom LSU's main library is named — want to meet with school officials before they officially drop the former president's name from the building.

LSU officials announced this week they would seek approval to rename the library in order to distance itself from a segregated past.

Middleton, who served as president of the university six decades ago, has been viewed as a face of segregation at the school since the disclosure of a 1961 letter he wrote saying LSU still kept black students separated from whites. Gov. John Bel Edwards publicly supported the name change Thursday, calling Middleton a segregationist while speaking in a town hall session with The Advocate.

The Middleton family, however, wants to meet with LSU's Board of Supervisors in person before a name change is finalized.

"General Middleton's long record of distinguished service to both this state and this country demands that the Board of Supervisors allow his family and supporters to plead his case, in person and in public, rather than on a Zoom teleconference after providing no notice to his family of the proposal now being considered," their letter to the board reads in part.

The board is expected to take up the name change proposal at its June 19 meeting after LSU leaders met with black student advocates this past week working toward snuffing out racism and increasing cultural inclusion at the campus. The Middleton family wants the item removed from the board agenda.

One of the ways black student leaders identified to do that was to remove Middleton's name and any mention of him from the library.

In a letter to students Thursday night, interim President Thomas Galligan and Board of Supervisors chair Mary Werner outlined a series of immediate actions the school will take to address inequity on campus.

Those include focusing on recruiting students of color into academic careers, exploring a mental health hotline and access to mental health resources, and adding specific language about diversity, racism and prejudice to the Student Code of Conduct.

In addition to joining the nation in addressing inequality following the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, LSU has also fielded recent criticism for its handling of a viral social media video in which an incoming student used a racial slur.

The Middleton family has denounced the decision to change the library's name as part of that movement, calling it an erasure of history in a statement issued Thursday.


Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.