The family of a former Louisiana State University (LSU) president are suing the school to get back his military items and are seeking monetary damages for “extreme humiliation” caused by LSU’s denouncement of his segregationist views, according to the Associated Press.
Jill Craft – attorney for descendants of Troy H. Middleton – said the suit is meant to get historical papers and memorabilia back, not punish LSU’s Board of Supervisors for deciding June 2020 to remove Middleton’s name from the library.
Middleton – LSU president 1951 until 1962 – died 1976. The former military general described his belief in racial segregation, saying he didn’t want Black students on campus but was required to allow them under court order.
LSU Interim President Tom Galligan recommended the name removal last year, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards supported the name removal.
“It’s not as related to that as it is to the whole notion that LSU took a position to vilify General Middleton, said they wanted no reminders of him on campus and they said, ‘Come get your stuff,’” Craft said. “If the family cannot peacefully retrieve their property, then obviously their entitled to (monetary) damages.”
According to the suit, family went to campus multiple times to get the collection displayed in the LSU Military Museum but LSU gave “several differing excuses.”
“LSU, as a state institution, cannot simply give away the parts of the collection that constitute historical government records and documents that may properly belong to the university and/or the federal government,” said Ernie Ballard III, LSU spokesperson. “We have explained this to his heirs.”
Ballard said the family can retrieve Middleton’s personal belongings and memorabilia.