An unusual situation occurred last week at the University of Wisconsin when authorities decided to heed a claim from the Black Student Union and remove a historic rock—considering it a racist monument—from the campus on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.
The students’ claim arose after a newspaper story was republished, indicating that in 1920 students referred to the rock with a racial slur—”Niggerhead,” which would have hurt the feelings of some students, who demanded its removal.
The story is so absurd that it appears to be satire, but it is not. The University of Wisconsin just spent $50,000 to remove a huge 70-ton boulder from its campus because a group of students, influenced by critical race theory, considered the presence of the ancient rock to be a racist symbol, according to Fox News.
The controversial rock was named Chamberlin Rock, honoring the name of a 19th-century geologist and former university chancellor, Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, whose work focused on glacial deposits, a biography on the university’s website reports.
The controversy was sparked after the Wisconsin Street Journal republished a nearly 100-year-old news article noting that the dark-colored rock was often referred to as a racial slur in the 1920s.
Students who complained about the rock and demanded its removal also claimed that the Ku Klux Klan was believed to have been active on campus at the time.
According to the article, the rock is a rare specimen that is more than 2 billion years old. Only the top few inches were visible above ground before it was installed at the University of Wisconsin’s Hill Observatory.
In October 1925, the university had the rock excavated and placed in a prominent location at the top of the hill to honor Chamberlin, who would die in Chicago three years later.
In the 1920s, the term “niggerhead” was used to describe that type of rock. These days the word is understood as a racial slur. It was considered a possibility that a cell of the Ku Klux Klan terrorist organization that had existed at the university at the time was enough to ensure that the description was racist and the rock should be removed.
Students have been demonstrating against the stone for several years and finally, in early 2021, got approval for its removal. However, it could not go through until Friday of last week since approval was still needed from the Wisconsin Historical Society because the rock was located within a few feet of a Native American burial site.
Given the considerable size of the rock, a specialized company had to be hired to move it, and the cost of the service was nearly $50,000.
According to Fox News, Chamberlin will receive a new plaque on a building that already bears his name, and the rock will find a new home near Lake Kegonsa.