USC dedicates historic building to Medicine Crow alum Joseph

USC alumnus. World War II hero and war leader of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation. Author and historian. dr. Joseph Medicine Raven Monday added another entry to a long list of honors: USC’s Center for International and Public Affairs now bears his name, becoming an inspiration to students today and generations to come.

USC President Carol L. Folt

USC President Carol L. Folt discusses the name change process at Monday’s inauguration. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

The change, celebrated by members of the Medicine Crow family, USC administrators, faculty, staff and students, also represents USC President Carol L. Folt’s desire to align the university on its core values ​​and to shape what USC wants to be as a community.

“As of this morning, this building, with this magnificent tower on top of the globe that is visible throughout Los Angeles, telegraphs a new symbol of USC, a new name – I would say a proper name – to fulfill the dream of tomorrow,” Folt said. crowds have gathered near the building, whose lean, minimalist arches, classic brick lines, and white trim draw the eye upward.

Honoring a Legacy

The day started with drizzle, but the sun came out just as the celebration began and lasted until the unveiling of the building’s new name: the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs.

Ron Medicine Raven

Ron Medicine Crow remembers his father at Monday’s dedication ceremony. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

“Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow’s name on this building and his life so dedicated to peace, unity, education and global understanding, will be a very visible sign of hope and honor,” Folt told the crowd of guests and spectators gathered at Alumni Park.

The Central California Native Warriors flag band marched through a sea of ​​Trojan horses to present the colors. As Medicine Crow’s son Ronald looked at the flags behind him and the number of supporters at University Park Campus, he shared two songs that were important not only to his father but also to the Crow people.

“Dad used to say, ‘A celebrity chef once said that today is a good day to die, but I’m telling you, today is a good day to live,'” Ronald Medicine Crow said. “And we’re having a good day today.”

Maracea “Mesa” Chasepresident of USC Native American Student Assemblyalso spoke to the crowd about the meaning of the name.


Maracea “Mesa” Chase of the USC Native American Student Assembly offers insight. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

“The renaming of this building not only exemplifies the amazing accomplishments and character of Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, but it also serves as a foundation for the recognition and representation of our Native American students, staff, faculty, and alumni” , said Chase, member. of the Navajo, Hopi and Sioux Lakota tribes. “For when there is recognition and representation, there is understanding.”

Folt announced that this fall, two students will receive the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Fellowship, another honor dedicated to a man whose life so enriched his alma mater and his country.

“He said, and I quote, ‘Education is a way of life. I want to help people get a good education and get them out of the world of ignorance,” Folt said. “It’s a centuries-old mission, contemporary and perfect for the people who work here today.”

A journey that reflects USC values

Renaming a building is not easy. Policy and procedure govern the process; the administration and the foundation board must agree. Folt’s journey began when she took to the podium at her inauguration in September 2019. Student protesters watching the ceremony from the steps of the Public Affairs Building began shouting.

Family members

Maracea “Mesa” Chase and the Medicine Crow family celebrate the dedication of the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Folt stopped to listen. Students were protesting the structure’s original namesake: former USC president Rufus Von KleinSmid.

A proponent of eugenics theory, Von KleinSmid derailed the education of Japanese American students at the start of World War II. As members of the Nisei generation, those born to immigrant parents from Japan, the students were forced into detention centers across the West.

When the Nisei were released and sought to return to USC, Von KleinSmid denied their readmission. He also refused to give them their transcripts. Consequently, some Nisei students who transferred to other schools were forced to repeat classes, delaying their education for two or more years.

For years, descendants and friends of the Nisei have fought for their recognition as Trojans, fighting a USC policy against awarding degrees posthumously.

Folt heard them and lobbied for their cause.

After obtaining the support of the board of directors, the president conferred posthumous honorary degrees about Nisei students at a ceremony 10 days ago.

Folt knew that degrees were only a step towards justice. While working to ensure the Nisei were welcomed as members of the Trojan family, she also sought to rename the Von KleinSmid Center building – known to many as “VKC” – for the deceased. university president.

“President Von KleinSmid took a number of truly appalling and unjust actions, and he wrote about those beliefs not only contrary to our current dreams and our mission, but they were in fact contrary to the founding mission of USC,” Folt said at Monday’s event. “The Founders were an ecumenical group who believed that Los Angeles needed a great university, USC, that would embody and enable the incredible diversity of people in the region.”

    Medal of Freedom is awarded to Medicine Crow

President Barack Obama ties the Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of Joseph Medicine Crow in 2009. (Photo/Alex Brandon, The Associated Press)

Looking for a more suitable person to name the building for, Folt formed a nominating committee of faculty, students, and alumni. Paula Canon, an associate professor of microbiology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, was on that committee. Cannon, former president of the Academic Senate, and her committee members reviewed hundreds of names, but one stood out.

“The more I read about Joseph Medicine Crow, I just couldn’t believe how amazing he was,” Cannon said in a previous interview. “At committee meetings, we’d find ourselves saying, ‘How could we never have heard of it?'”

Cannon and other members of the committee looked at historical documents, including the master’s thesis that Medicine Crow wrote in 1939: “The Effects of European Cultural Contact on the Economic, Social, and Religious Life of the Crow Indians.” Medicine Crow books were also considered, including From the Heart of Crow Country: The Crow Indians stories and his autobiography Counting Coup: Become a crow leader on the reserve and beyond.

Medicine Crow received an honorary doctorate from USC in 2003, one of four honorary doctorates he received during his lifetime.

“He’s our USC warrior for peace,” Folt said at the ceremony. “Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow’s dreams, his life of honor – proudly, humbly upon our Center for International and Public Affairs – will truly inspire the Trojans of USC for generations to come.

More stories on: Carol L. Folt, USC History

Leave a Comment