The University of Wisconsin-Madison is spending somewhere between $30,000 and $75,000 for good use; to move a rock. But not just any rock, no, this is a racist rock. “Chamberlin Rock, located on top of Observatory Hill, is named in honor of Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, a geologist and former university president” reports the Wisconsin State Journal.
However, “for some students of color on campus, the rock represents a painful history of discrimination” the article explains. The 70-ton boulder was removed from the “heart of campus” at 6:30 am Friday morning following demands from students over the past year.
The boulder will be moved to university-owned land southeast of Madison near Lake Kegonsa. In its place, the university plans to place a plaque to honor the former university president. Wisconsin State Journal reports:
The boulder was referred to as a “n——-head” — a commonly used expression in the 1920s to describe any large dark rock — at least once in a 1925 Wisconsin State Journal story. University historians have not found any other time that the term was used but said the Ku Klux Klan was active on campus at that time.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank approved the removal of Chamberlin Rock in January but the Wisconsin Historical Society needed to sign off on the rock’s removal because it was located within 15 feet of a Native American burial site…
… The Black Student Union led the call to remove the rock last summer. Nalah McWhorter, the group’s president and a UW-Madison senior, said in an interview this summer that the demands to remove the boulder had been around even before she arrived on campus three years ago.
“I’m grateful that we have had the opportunity to do this and that the rock will be removed,” she said. “It was our demand, and it was something that we put all the work in for.”
The Black Student Union worked with Wunk Sheek, an Indigenous student organization on campus, to lobby for the rock’s removal.
“We did all these presentations,” McWhorter said. “We went through all of these meetings during an academic year with a lot of other stuff going on, so the work really relied on us, as students, and as Black students.”
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