Whether one considers them vandals or activists, various #BlackLivesMatter demonstrators have for months been targeting monuments of Confederate figures, spray-painting them with bold messages to protest their presence. Today, efforts to relocate two statues — both of Confederate President Jefferson Davis — to local history museums were announced.
At the University of Texas at Austin, a Davis statue that was tagged multiple times with messages such as “Davis Must Fall” and “Black Lives Matter” will soon move to an exhibition in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, as the Texas Tribune reported. UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves’ decision to place it in its proper historic context follows recommendations from a 12-member advisory panel he had assembled in June that received over 3,000 public opinions. Four other statues, however, including ones of Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston that also received guerilla paint jobs, will remain on campus grounds, although Fenves is considering placing plaques by them that explain their controversial statuses.
“While every historical figure leaves a mixed legacy, I believe Jefferson Davis is in a separate category and that it is not in the university’s best interest to continue commemorating him,” Fenves wrote to the university community. “Davis had few ties to Texas; he played a unique role in the history of the American South that is best explained and understood through an educational exhibit.”
According to campus spokesman Gary Susswein, the statue will likely stand at its current site for no more than two days; in the next year-and-a-half, it will be refurbished before moving to its new home in the Dolph Briscoe Center.
Another Davis statue, this one in Kentucky, has caught the attention of the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Greg Stumbo, who today announced his intention to file legislation to remove the prominent statue from the state Capitol Rotunda, the Richmond Register reported.
“If you think about the symbol in the house of government that stands for all people that offends some people, then I think it’s improper to have it there, period,” Stumbo said. “It has its place in history, as do a lot of monuments, but it shouldn’t stand in the house that belongs to all the people.” An advisory commission that oversees historical displays in the Capitol had voted last week to keep the statue, but Stumbo will sponsor a new resolution next January in an attempt to migrate the marble Davis to the halls of the Kentucky History Museum.
In Richmond, Virginia, a memorial devoted to the controversial Confederate leader on Monument Avenue was vandalized in June; an online petition calls for its removal, but there are no plans yet of an official motion to relocate the statue.
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