Radford University will no longer honor a racist
Trejbal is a Roanoke Times editorial writer based in the New River Valley.
Radford University soon will undo a decades-old mistake by renaming Powell Hall.
Powell Hall opened in 1967 and houses space for the departments of music and art. It is named after John Powell, a famed Virginia pianist and composer who had died a few years before. He was a champion of local Appalachian music and was one of the founders of the legendary White Top Folk Festival in Grayson County.
If that were the whole of the story, placing his name on a music building would be a suitable memorial.
It is not the whole story.
Powell was one of the commonwealth’s most notorious racists. He was a firm believer in white racial purity and equated race with culture, especially music. The White Top Folk Festival itself was to be a celebration of the white race’s musical heritage.