Bloomington street sheds eugenicist’s name on unanimous plan commission vote, will now be called Eagleson Avenue

The north-south street that cuts through the Indiana University campus in Bloomington will no longer be named after David Starr Jordan, the school’s president from 1885 to 1891.

Jordan was a proponent of eugenics, which advocates for the improvement of the human species through selective mating.

On a unanimous vote taken Monday night, the city’s plan commission changed the name of the street from Jordan Avenue to Eagleson Avenue—for the portion of the road that runs from Davis Street to 17th Street.

The name change does not take effect for another four and a half months. It’s not effective until Feb. 1, 2022.

The street is being renamed for four-generations of the Eagleson family, starting with Halson Vashon Eagleson who was born a slave in 1851.

According to a mayoral-appointed task force report, Halson Eagleson arrived in Bloomington in the 1880s and became a prominent barber. His five children attended Indiana University. The report describes how in 1910, he opened Industrial City, a home for “colored” orphans in Unionville.

A  little less than a year ago, in October 2020, the IU Board of Trustees voted to remove the name Jordan from Jordan Hall, Jordan Avenue Parking Garage, and Jordan River.

To make its recommendation, a joint IU and city task force worked on the Jordan Avenue renaming from April through July of 2021.

Despite the unanimous vote, the renaming of the street was not an easy decision for some of the Bloomington plan commissioners. Continue reading “Bloomington street sheds eugenicist’s name on unanimous plan commission vote, will now be called Eagleson Avenue”

Taliaferro Avenue floated as new name for city street that cuts through IU campus, part of effort to remove Jordan namings

In remarks made at the start of Bloomington’s Wednesday city council meeting, president Steve Volan suggested that the city street known as Jordan Avenue be renamed as Taliaferro Avenue, or possibly Taliaferro Way.

The Jordan Avenue street sign at the intersection of 3rd Street and Jordan Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The Taliaferros, George and Viola, were a Bloomington couple who each blazed trails of their own. Viola was Monroe County’s first Black judge, serving from 1995 to 2004.  After playing his college football at Indiana University in the late 1940s, George was the first Black player to be drafted by an NFL team.

The elimination of Jordan namings from the campus landscape has recently been recommended by the university’s president, Michael McRobbie.  McRobbie is recommending that the name of the university’s seventh president, David Starr Jordan, be removed from several Bloomington campus landmarks. Jordan served as IU’s president from 1885 to 1891.

The removal of Jordan’s name is prompted by his conspicuous role in the eugenics movement, the idea that society and the genetics of the population could be improved through selective breeding.

The university, of course, does not have the authority to rename a city street. Continue reading “Taliaferro Avenue floated as new name for city street that cuts through IU campus, part of effort to remove Jordan namings”