The spirit of revolution is reverberating through every part of society and the sports world is not exempt.

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Current NFL players DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson are petitioning their former university, Clemson, to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the school’s honors college.

Hopkins revealed that Calhoun’s influence is the reason he does not mention the university’s name when he’s introduced before NFL games.


John C. Calhoun served as vice president under John Quincy Adams from 1825 to 1829. During that time he was pro-slavery asserting that slavery, rather than being a “necessary evil,” was a “positive good,” benefiting both slaves and slave owners.

To protect minority rights against majority rule, he called for a concurrent majority, whereby the minority could sometimes block proposals that it felt infringed on their liberties. During the course of his career, he reversed his stand as a nationalist and advocated states’ rights as a means of preserving slavery in the South.

As a South Carolina senator, Calhoun used the argument of states’ rights to protect slavery in what is known as the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833. The Clemson campus is built on Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation. According to his bio on the school’s website, he enslaved 70-80 Africans.

“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,” Hopkins wrote on Instagram.

“I am joining the voices of the students and faculty who have restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors 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.”

Change Gone Come?

Both Hopkins and Watson tweeted a link to a petition that demands that Clemson “remove John C. Calhoun’s name from one of our most distinguished academic programs.”

The petition says that “Clemson University President James P. Clements recently stated that Clemson will not tolerate racism ‘in any form,'” and that Calhoun’s words and actions contradict that.

“Clemson University should not honor slave owner John C. Calhoun in any way,” Watson tweeted Monday. “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.”

Hopkins acknowledged in his Instagram post that seeing Calhoun represented at Clemson “has been bothering me for a long time.”

Watson and Hopkins are former teammates with the Houston Texans. Hopkins was traded during the offseason to the Arizona Cardinals.