The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications has received pressure to rename the college, which has the namesake of Henry W. Grady, a well-known journalist from the 1800s who was also a white supremacist.
To express the passion and desire for the college to be renamed, a group of Grady students took skills they gained from professors and classes to produce a satirical video on why it should be renamed. The video expresses how their values as Grady students don’t align with the name of the college, and they want to be from a school they are proud of, Sulli Giles, video director, writer and senior entertainment and media studies major, said.
Petitions have been created to change the name of Grady College to some more well-renowned alumni, such as Charlayne Hunter-Gault, one of the first Black students to integrate UGA in 1961 and a Grady graduate.
Students have called on these name change requests since June, creating a petition to rename Grady with over 9,000 signatures and an Instagram account devoted to spreading awareness on the importance of the name change. In July, the University System of Georgia created an advisory board to reconsider the names of multiple colleges across statewide universities, but no action has resulted yet for the renaming of Grady.
The video starts out in a tour-like manner, where Madie Young, actress in the video and a senior entertainment and media studies major, pretends to give a tour of Grady College by telling its history and features. However, once she gets around to the reasoning behind the name, she uses a happy and sarcastic tone to describe the white supremicist nature of Henry Grady.
“We know this isn’t anything groundbreaking, and it’s supposed to be funny, but we want people to watch and laugh but think ‘oh, this is bad,’” Giles said. “I think it’s a lot easier to have conversations when you’re watching something that isn’t filled with hate.”
The production team included a quote made by Grady in 1889: “the supremacy of the white race of the South must be maintained forever, and the domination of the negro race resisted at all points and at all hazards, because the white race is the superior race... [This declaration] shall run forever with the blood that feeds Anglo-Saxon hearts.”
Once Giles had the idea to make the video, she said she started the research on Grady, and was disappointed that it was not hard to find comments denoting his advocacy for white supremacy and racism.
Young said she doesn’t expect this video to fix any racism that has persisted in Athens or around UGA, but she wants to use it to spread awareness about the person a school is named after.
“I think the main thing we want people to take out of this video is that we, as students at Grady College, are not happy about the name and we don’t support it,” Young said. “We love this school and what we’ve learned from it… but why is it named after a racist when there are so many other people who deserve to have their name up there instead?”
Many of the reactions to the video have been positive and funny, Giles and Young said. Their intent was to enhance the conversation about the college’s namesake and its history and push for change, which many of the viewers and commenters agreed with, they said.