University of Louisville Will Take Down Massive, 121-Year-Old Confederate Monument

Source: AP
Source: AP

More than a century after it was erected in 1895, the 70-foot-tall monument to Confederate soldiers that stands on the University of Louisville's main campus will be taken down, officials announced Friday.

"This monument represents our history — a painful part of our nation's history for many — and it's best moved to a new location," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said at a media conference with university president James Ramsey.

That "new location" will be in storage, where the statue will be disassembled, cleaned and prepared for transport to a yet-undetermined but "more appropriate" place, the Courier-Journal reported — a fitting end for a structure that's caused tension in the city for years.

The decision to take down the monument ends a decades-long battle, in which various factions debated whether keeping a visual tribute to an army that fought to maintain black slavery was appropriate on a racially diverse American campus.

In a 2002 decision, the university's board of trustees unanimously voted to rename the area around the statue in a tribute to civil rights leaders, according to the Courier-Journal. Most recently, in April, Louisville professor and chair of Pan-African studies Ricky L. Jones penned a biting letter calling for the statue to be removed.

"Let us make history of our own this day," he wrote for the Courier-Journal. "I say now, 'Mr. Fischer and Mr. Ramsey, tear down this statue!' It is way past due."

Another Confederate monument in Louisville, as it stood in 1930
Source: 
Anonymous/AP

Friday's announcement is the culmination of this battle, but it's not the only one; the University of Louisville is far from alone in having this sort of debate in recent years.

Other schools and institutions have seen similar disputes: Harvard Law School recently opted to remove its controversial seal, which bore the coat of arms for a slave owner who helped found the school. Georgetown University students staged a sit-in in November that prompted officials to rename a building that had previously been named for former school president and slave owner Thomas F. Mulledy.

Supporters of the Confederate flag rally around the South Carolina State House, where the flag flew until recently.
Source: 
Bruce Smith/AP

In a move that got the ball rolling, the Confederate battle flag was removed from the statehouse in South Carolina in July, mere weeks after a then-21-year-old white supremacist, Dylann Roof, killed nine black parishioners in the city's revered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The shooting forced much of the U.S. — and the American South especially — to reckon with the true significance of Confederate symbols. The conclusion was unavoidable: They celebrated a cause that wanted to keep black people enslaved, and terrorized black people long after they were freed.

Now, these monuments are gradually being torn down. What a time to be alive.

h/t Courier-Journal

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