University President Greg Fenves announced the removal of the statues of Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg from the university’s Main Mall
When students at the University of Texas at Austin return to classes Aug. 30, they may notice the air on campus is cleaner, and the view clearer and brighter, since the university has taken action to remove four second-place trophies (aka Confederate statues) from campus.
Wrote Fenves in his statement regarding the statues’ removal:
The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus—and the connections that individuals have with them—are severely compromised by what they symbolize. Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.
Fenves noted that the states of Lee, Johnston and Reagan will be added to the collection of the school’s Briscoe Center for scholarly study, while the statue of Hogg will be considered for re-installation at another campus site.
Removal of the statues started at around 11 p.m. Sunday, with no notice given for public safety reasons, university spokesperson Gary Susswein told the Dallas Morning News. The removal is expected to be completed sometime Monday.
As the Morning News notes, the university had previously removed statues of Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States, and that of former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 2015, following the creation of a task force in response to the June 2015 fatal shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine dead.
“We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus,” Fenves said. “As UT students return in the coming week, I look forward to welcoming them here for a new academic year with a recommitment to an open, positive and inclusive learning environment for all.”