Plummer Auditorium

(Jordan Mendoza / Daily Titan)

Plummer Auditorium, one of Fullerton’s historic buildings, will have a new name next week after an online petition raised awareness to the namesake’s ties with the Ku Klux Klan. 

Scott Scambray, Fullerton Joint Union High School District superintendent, said in an email to the Daily Titan that the name change will occur at the district’s board of trustees meeting on June 16. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places in Fullerton and was built in 1930, is owned and operated by the school district.

While Louis E. Plummer’s name will be taken off the auditorium, Scambray said that there are no new name suggestions as of Monday. 

Plummer held a prominent role in the city of Fullerton’s education in the first half of the 20th century. He began working at the city’s high school when he arrived in Fullerton in 1909. In 1915, he became vice principal of Fullerton High School and Fullerton Junior College, and four years later, became the superintendent for both schools, a position he held from 1919-41.

Despite his role in the development of the college, which was established in 1913, Plummer joined the KKK in 1923. It is unknown if he stayed a member up until his passing in 1958.

Fullerton resident Jacqueline Logwood created the online petition to rename the auditorium on June 4. As of Thursday evening, it has gathered over 24,000 signatures. 

“As a proud member of the Fullerton community, I stress that it is time that we stop honoring Fullerton’s racist past. We need to rename the Plummer Auditorium. Such an important building for the community should not continue to bear the name of a white supremacist, of a proud and active KKK member,” Logwood said in the petition.

Logwood has lived in Fullerton since she began elementary school. She attended Sunny Hills High School and is currently a student at UC Riverside, and has performed at the auditorium before. After learning about Plummer’s history on June 4, she made the petition the same day to bring awareness because she said she felt that Plummer would not have approved of her being on the stage.

“As an African American woman, he would not like me on top of his stage. I’m not the type of people that he would endorse and support and clap on,” Logwood said. “I feel like it’s a very monumental landmark for Fullerton. It really brings the community together and I was really disappointed to see that it was named after a KKK member.”

With the petition close to its goal of 25,000 signatures, Logwood said that seeing the support for the cause continue to grow from Fullerton residents has made her proud to be part of the community.

Fullerton City Councilmember Jesus Silva, who oversees the district the auditorium resides in, said that he received emails about renaming the auditorium, but said the city council cannot vote to rename it because the building is owned by the district. However, Silva said the petition is justified and change is needed.

“We need to listen to what the residents are saying,” Silva said. “When something like this happens, you really have to take a closer look at it.”

Logwood said that she has seen many suggestions for a new name and believes a vote should be held to decide it, but she would be happy to see it named after a person of color.

“I would be very pleased if it was named after a woman of color, or any person of color, that was just really significant in Fullerton’s history,” Logwood said.

Located on Fullerton Union High School’s campus, the auditorium has served as the venue of many of the district’s high school drama, music and dance performances, as well as local cultural events. On the city’s website, it says that the auditorium, “has served the community well, giving Fullerton its fine reputation as a cultural and educational center for north Orange County.”

There is also a grant offered at Fullerton College in Plummer’s name, which is given to disadvantaged students who just graduated from one of the district’s high schools or are returning to the college for a second year.  Lisa McPheron, director of campus communications, said that the college does not own the grant and is part of the Fullerton College Foundation organization.

In September 2019, the President’s Advisory Council of the college decided to remove a portrait of Plummer from the school’s library, as surveys from the school showed that students felt uncomfortable honoring an individual who had ties to the KKK.

The renaming of the auditorium is one of numerous actions happening across the country to remove the names or statues of historical figures who have been linked to the KKK or the Confederacy, many in response to the protests over the death of George Floyd.

Speakers at protests in Fullerton on Saturday and Sunday encouraged protesters to sign the petition. On Saturday, some protesters marched from Fullerton City Hall to Plummer Auditorium in support of the name change. The group Upset Homegirls of Fullerton, who organized the Sunday protest, said it is one of the changes the city needs to make.

The board of trustees meeting will take place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The public can access the Zoom meeting through the district’s website.

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