A lawyer from Virginia wants the University of Richmond to pay more than $3.6 billion to his family because the school changed the name of its law school, which was named after a relative of the lawyer.
According to the university, T.C. Williams Law School was named after a tobacco business owner who owned 25 to 40 slaves. Last year, after hundreds of students and faculty protested, the name of the school was changed.
Last year, the school changed the names of six buildings that were named after slave owners. This included Ryland Hall, which was named after the school’s first president, who owned slaves, and Freeman Hall, which was named after a man who supported segregation, eugenics, and laws against interracial marriage, according to Richmond.com, a local news site.
Last year, the name of T.C. Williams Law School was changed to the University of Richmond School of Law. However, a local lawyer who is a descendant of T.C. Williams, Robert C. Smith, is asking the school to pay back his family since the name has changed.
Smith wrote a letter to University of Richmond President Kevin F. Hallock, published on Real Clear Markets. In the letter, Smith called the university’s decision to “dename” the T.C. Williams Law School “shameful.” Smith said that his family helped build a lot of early Richmond and contributed to the school.
T.C. Williams Sr., who went to the school from 1846 to 1849, was on the board of trustees. “We knew in 1888, he gave $10,000 to re-establish the Law School, and at his death in 1889, his estate contributed $25,000 to the Law School,” Smith wrote.
Smith said that after T.C. Williams Sr. died, his family still gave money to the university. Smith said that T.C. Williams Jr., who went to the school and became chairman of its executive committee, “didn’t get paid for his work.”
He also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the private school, which helped it stay open. Smith figured out that his family has given the university a total of $3.6 billion over the years.
“Numbers don’t lie,” he writes. “It might be worthwhile for you to require every woke activist to take a course in finance to appreciate those for whom they want to cancel.”
In the past few years, similar protests have happened all over the country, and many places have changed their names because people were worried about where they came from. Several statues of the Confederacy have also been taken down from public places in the U.S.
In 2020, a high school in Virginia that used to be called after Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and slave owner, will be called John Lewis High School.
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In 2020, the name of a high school in Alexandria that became famous because of the movie “Remember the Titans” was also changed. T.C. Williams High School was also the school’s name, but it was named after a different T.C. Williams.
CBS Sports says the high school was named after a superintendent, Thomas Chambliss Williams, who pushed for segregation. In 2021, the board of directors of the University of San Francisco voted to change the name of UC Hastings Law School.
The school was named after its founder, who did terrible things to Yuki Indians in the Round Valley and Eden Valley area. The board officially changed the school’s name to UC College of Law, San Francisco, in 2023.
And in December, a bronze statue of Confederate General A.P. Hill was taken down from Richmond, which was once the capital of the Confederacy. The city had been trying for two years to get rid of all of the monuments to the Confederacy.
In his letter, Smith says that T.C. Williams Sr. and his brothers “all served Virginia and the Confederacy when their country called upon them.” He also says that the university could have been destroyed during the war “had not brave men sacrificed their lives.”
He also said that T.C. Williams Jr. had nothing to do with slavery. Reuters says the university’s board of directors voted unanimously to change the law school’s name after learning that T.C. Williams Sr. ran two tobacco companies and owned slaves in the 1800s.
Hallock told students in a letter in September that the school knows “some may be disappointed or disagree with this decision.” Hallock said, “We also recognize the role the Williams family has played here and respect the complete history of the institution.”
CBS News has tried to get in touch with Hallock and school representatives but hasn’t heard back. In his letter, Smith called Hallock “a carpetbagging weasel” and compared activists to the fictional mob boss Tony Soprano from the hit HBO show “The Sopranos.”
Smith said he found out how much the Williams family has given to the University of Richmond over the past 200 years by using historical rates of return. “The university’s endowment is $3.3 billion,” he writes in the letter.
He said the family will take “a note back for the remaining $300 million, providing that it is secured by all the campus buildings and all your woke faculty pledge their assets and guarantee the note.”
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