The Jackson Laboratory will remove the name of the late C.C. Little from an auditorium room on its Bar Harbor campus because of his “strong association” with the discredited eugenics movement.

While Little made a significant impact upon cancer research by founding the Bar Harbor facility in 1929, he was “strongly associated” with the eugenics movement, lab president and CEO Dr. Edison Liu said. The movement aimed to improve the genetic quality of humans by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior and promoting those judged to be superior — an idea now condemned as racist.

The lab follows the University of Maine’s decision to rename Clarence Cook Little Hall on the Orono campus because of his being a eugenicist and also a tobacco industry spokesperson at a time when the industry denied the link between smoking and cancer.

“The tragedy is that C.C. Little was also among many mainstream American scientists of his time who were strongly associated with the eugenics movement,” Liu said in the statement. “The JAX of today has markedly different values and principles than those of our founders. We do not support the beliefs of the eugenics movement in any manner, and wholly reject their tenets.”

The renaming of the two facilities comes in the wake of the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died after being pinned by the neck to the ground by a white police officer on May 25. 

The death, which has been ruled a homicide, helped create a wave of re-examinations of American history and culture nationwide that has resulted in the removal of statues and symbols commemorating Confederate Army leaders and others from other eras who have in their past actions or attitudes deemed racist.

The lab is forming a working group that will be tasked with renaming the auditorium room. All JAX employees will be invited to participate, company spokesperson Sarah Laskowski said.