Potential Douglas Hall name replacements: Ona and Kenneth Norton

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern’s Naming Committee is tasked with reviewing a list of individuals who Douglas Hall could be potentially renamed after.

The individuals being considered are former Illinois Governor Edward Coles, former student athlete and Tuskegee Airman Captain Charles B. Hall, former University President Louis V. Hencken, community members who assisted students with housing Ona and Kenneth Norton, Eastern’s first Black student Zella Powell and former life sciences professor and Director of Afro-American Studies William Ridgeway.

Ona and Kenneth “Crackers” Norton were residents of Charleston who opened their home to Black athletes who were unable to secure housing on campus.

Ona Norton and Kenneth Norton both came from well-known Coles County families; Ona Norton coming from the Stoner family of Charleston and Kenneth Norton coming from the Norton family of Mattoon, his father being a prominent barber in the area.

When the couple married in 1913, they carried on their families’ tradition of being well-known in the community. Kenneth Norton worked as a shoe shiner in various barbershops and Ona Norton held employment at Edman’s Bus Station and the Charleston Country Club, as well as operating a beauty salon where she is believed to have given the first permanent wave in Charleston.

In the 1950s, former Eastern football coach Ralph Kolh asked the couple to open their home to Black athletes who could not find housing on campus, which turned into operating multiple homes for Black men and women to live in while attending Eastern.

Ona Norton was named the 1967 Woman of the Year by the Charleston Chamber of Commerce and has a scholarship in her name for Black students at Eastern.

A complete list of individuals being reviewed can be found here.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]