Catt debate continues with latest newsletter

Tracy Deutmeyer

The Carrie Chapman Catt controversy rages on.

Since last fall, the September 29th Movement — a specially organized organization — has put pressure on Iowa State’s administration to rename Catt Hall. Members say alleged racist remarks made by Catt make her unfit for such an honor.

And they are determined to keep pushing.

The September 29th Movement has begun a three-part series on the issues that surround the naming of Catt Hall, said Allan Nosworthy, spokesman and chairman of the group.

The building was dedicated on Oct. 6, 1995.

The September 29th Movement began its crusade last fall when some students, faculty and staff became concerned that Carrie Chapman Catt used racist tactics to gain approval during the women’s suffrage movement.

On Sept. 29, 1995, Uhuru!, a newsletter funded by ISU’s Black Student Alliance, distributed an issue around campus that contained a reference to historical information about Carrie Chapman Catt called, “The Catt Is Out of the Bag: Racism Within the Suffrage Movement.”

“This issue concerns almost every person on this campus. Catt used people in her politically expedient behavior,” Nosworthy said.

Nosworthy said Catt’s racist remarks were targeted at African Americans, Native Americans and immigrants, which includes a large portion of the state of Iowa population.

The first of a three-part series published in Uhuru! was released last week.

The first issue outlined the events that will take place at the end of this month. Activities include a noon rally on Sept. 27 and “Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding” workshops. Films are scheduled for Sept. 28.

The schedule of activities for Sept. 29 has not been released. It should be solidified in about two weeks.

“There has been a lot of questions in the past about the controversy, especially last semester,” he said. “With the beginning of a new semester, we are attempting to educate people about Catt and give them historical answers,” he said.

Nosworthy said ISU President Martin Jischke has received more than 100 letters from students, faculty and staff about the concern of renaming Catt Hall.

“With more than 100 letters, and the first issue of our series, one has to wonder that President Jischke would certainly be moved in the name of diversity to rename Catt Hall, especially for a man who stresses diversity within this university.

“When ISU claims to be diverse and then names a building after a politically expedient woman, I think we’re non-consistent, to say the least,” Nosworthy said.

But Warren Madden, vice president of business and finance, said it’s not likely that Catt Hall will be renamed.

“I think we need to look at a person in their total context, and Carrie Chapman Catt was certainly significant in the women’s suffrage movement,” Madden said.

“I think the concerned people have a right to raise their views, and I think the university should be sensitive to these concerns. But I don’t necessarily think Catt Hall should be renamed.”

Along with writing to Jischke, the September 29 Movement has written to Hillary Clinton and Rosa Parks about their concerns.

“Last year we also had a silent movement in 20-below degree weather, with wind and snow. Over 100 people walked from Parks Library to Catt Hall.

“I think that shows some support,” Nosworthy said.

The second part of the series will be published Sept. 9 and will explain the reasons why the movement wants Catt Hall renamed.

The third issue, which will be released Sept. 23, will contain “facts and figures that show the administration’s lack of any meaningful support for programs that affect people of color,” Nosworthy said.

Members of the September 29 Movement hand out issues of Uhuru! across campus.