Skip Auld decided to change his name on the side of the road.
For 67 years, he was Hampton Marshall Auld. But it wasn’t until that moment last summer that Auld realized he was a living monument to the confederacy.
He reflected on this moment in an opinion piece sent this week to The Capital and the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, where Auld worked as a library executive before he became the CEO of Anne Arundel County’s library system.
And he thought about it as he wrote a statement for the library on the killing of George Floyd and put together a list of books that tackle systemic racism.
His lifelong nickname is Skip but his namesake, Wade Hampton III, was a Confederate general. Auld shrugged that off when he learned about Hampton in college. He was the fourth generation of Hampton Aulds, so why question it?
“I just sort of ignored it for decades,” Auld said.
But on a drive home from work last July, the meaning of his name sunk in.
Auld popped in the audiobook CD of “Grant,” a biography of President Ulysses S. Grant, and was driving through Davidsonville as he listened to a section about Hampton.
He learned that before he fought for the Confederacy, Wade Hampton III was one of the largest slaveholders in the South. After the war, Hampton led a white supremacy group called the Red Shirts that killed black people to deter them from voting. The group later merged into the Ku Klux Klan.
“My eyes got wider and wider and I actually pulled over and went to the beginning of that track and listened a second time,” Auld said.
“I immediately thought ‘I’m changing my name. I don’t want anything to do with that person.’ ... It just hit me in my gut that this was not something I wanted to be associated with in any way.”
The next day, Auld filed paperwork with the Anne Arundel County Clerk of Court.
“I didn’t like the idea that I was named for a terrorist,” Auld said. He listed that as the reason for his name change.
To honor his family, he chose the first name Charles, his father’s middle name, and made his middle name Marshall, his mother’s maiden name. But he’ll still go by Skip.
“I just wanted to tear down the highly personal monument to the Confederacy in my own family history,” Auld wrote in his op-ed to The Capital.