Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins have each called for Clemson to remove the name of a former slave owner from the university's honours college.
Houston Texans quarterback Watson and former team-mate Hopkins, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, shared petitions urging the removal of John C. Calhoun's name from the college, with Hopkins claiming it is the reason he does not say Clemson during player introductions before NFL games.
Clemson University should not honor slave owner John C. Calhoun in any way. 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.https://t.co/GdhtCZKFnZ— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) June 9, 2020
Watson led Clemson to two National Championship appearances, emerging victorious in the 2017 game against Alabama. Hopkins spent three seasons at Clemson from 2010 to 2012.
Calhoun, a vice-president under John Quincy Adams from 1825 to 1829, was an advocate for slavery. Describing it as a "positive good", he is said to have enslaved 70-80 African Americans at his Fort Hill plantation on which the Clemson campus is built.
Sharing a link to the petition on Instagram, Hopkins wrote: "As we watch everything happening in the world, I want to bring up something that has been bothering me for a long time in my community. Clemson University still honours the name of well-known slave owner and pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun on its buildings, signs, and in the name of its honours program.
Clemson University still honors the name of slave owner John C. Calhoun on its buildings, signs, and in the name of its honors program. I am joining the voices of the students and faculty to restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College. https://t.co/1198BZ8FeS pic.twitter.com/xQmXmBPUeW— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) June 8, 2020
"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.
"I am joining the voices of the students and faculty who have restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honours College. I urge 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. Now is the time for change."
Watson wrote on his Twitter account: "Clemson University should not honour slave owner John C. Calhoun in any way.
"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 Honours College."