Over 100 members of the English Department at the University of Mississippi, including students and professors, have penned a letter which was sent to Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter asking for the Confederate Statue on the Ole Miss campus to be moved from the Circle. The letter was written in response to the events in Charlottesville, which were centered around the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in the downtown area.
“Confederate monuments are not only an affront to a large proportion of our population, but are also a rallying point for neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and the so-called alt-right. These monuments have never been about teaching or commemorating history, but were rather raised as tools of oppression against the African-American community and symbols of white supremacy. Monuments like these were purposefully placed in strategic locations — the statue of the Confederate soldier in the Lyceum Circle very clearly warns African Americans to stay off campus and continues to alienate many members of the UM community,” the letter reads.
Contextualization has been a hot button issue at Ole Miss over the past year, as the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Historical Context and Contextualization has named sites on campus set to be contextualized. The statue was one of the first sites to be altered with a plaque denoting what the statue stood for. Vitter told HottyToddy.com back in March that putting the statue in context was preferable to removing it.
“We left the Confederate statue, but we contextualized it, and I think that’s far preferable than removing it as some cities have done, which I think is wrong,” Vitter said.
In a letter to the Ole Miss community, Vitter discussed the statue’s place in Ole Miss’ identity moving forward.
“This historic statue is a reminder of the university’s divisive past. Today, the University of Mississippi draws from that past a continuing commitment to open its hallowed halls to all who seek truth, knowledge, and wisdom,” Vitter said.
The letter written by the English department requests that the statue be moved to what they feel to be a more appropriate place for it in the cemetery, away from a prominent area of campus.
“We urge you to take immediate action to relocate the monument to the Confederate cemetery on campus — another public place that is a much more appropriate resting place for a tribute to fallen soldiers. In doing so the University of Mississippi would stand among other colleges and universities in the South and nationwide that have in recent days either removed or declared their intention to remove, Confederate monuments from places of prominence on their campus to more appropriate sites,” the letter reads.
Chancellor Vitter has yet to respond to the request, HottyToddy.com will update this story as more information becomes available.
Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.