Confederate monument at Ole Miss to be moved to cemetery
JACKSON, miss. (AP) - A Confederate monument that was a symbol of division at the University of Mississippi is being moved from a prominent location on the Oxford campus to a remote civil war cemetery.
The State College Board approved a relocation plan on Thursday, but did not say when this could happen.
The decision was made in a widespread debate over Confederate symbols when people in the United States and other countries protested racism and police violence against African Americans.
The University of Mississippi was founded in 1848 and the marble statue of a saluting Confederate soldier was erected in 1906. It is one of many Confederate monuments erected in the south over a century ago.
Critics say his exhibition near the university's main administration building sends a signal that Ole Miss is glorifying the Confederacy and glossing over the history of slavery in the south.
"We shouldn't run away from our past ... but we shouldn't glorify it," said Joshua Mannery, president of the Associated Student Body, on Thursday.
Mannery attended the college board meeting with a diverse group of 15 other Ole Miss students who have urged officials to move the memorial. Mannery, who is an African American, said the law represents white supremacy.
Due to the corona virus pandemic, board members met by conference call while some people listened in the room where the board normally meets. The vote took place quickly and without discussion during the meeting and quietly culminated in a debate that has been in circulation for years.
The estimated cost of the move is $ 1.2 million, which will be paid for with private donations rather than public funds.
Mannery said to his fellow students who had gathered outside after the vote: "We did it!"
While they were celebrating, a woman who had attended the meeting to oppose the adoption of the statute came outside and raised her voice among the students.
"Why do you want to change everything about this school? ... They are the ones who don't even have the money, "said Lisa Langley from Vicksburg, who later identified herself as part of a group called Make Ole Miss Great Again.
The students smiled, waved to Langley and left.
The statue was a meeting point in 1962 for people who spoke out against the judicial integration of the university.
Pro-confederate groups from outside the university gathered at the memorial in February 2019, causing Ole Miss's basketball players to kneel in protest against the rally during the national anthem. The student government leaders voted two weeks later to ask the administrators to move the memorial to the cemetery where the Confederate soldiers killed in the Battle of Shiloh are buried.
In December, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board approved architectural and technical plans for the relocation of the monument. In January, the college board delayed a vote on the matter. Members said they wanted more information.
A former student from the University of Mississippi was arrested on May 30 after spraying Spiritual Genocide and leaving bloody handprints on the memorial. He has been accused of defacing public property and the monument has already been cleaned.
Mississippi can only change slowly. After the integration ordered by the court, some officials said the schools were moving in this direction at a deliberate pace - but pulling the feet took years. Legislators often kill proposals by ignoring them.
The University of Mississippi has been working for more than 20 years to distance itself from the confederate images, often under the resistance of traditional donors and alumni. The rebel nickname for sports teams remains, but the university pulled its Colonel Reb mascot out of criticism in 2003 that the bearded old man looked like a plantation owner. In 1997, the administrators banned sticks in the football stadium, which largely prevented people from waving the Confederate flags. The brass band no longer plays "Dixie".
Due to a student-led effort, the university stopped flying the Mississippi flag in 2015, the last state flag in the United States that featured the Confederate Battle emblem prominently.
Since 2016, the university has placed plaques to create a historical context about the Confederate Monument and slaves who built some campus buildings before the Civil War. A plaque at the base of the Confederate statue says that such monuments were erected in the south decades after the civil war, at a time when aging Confederate veterans died.
"These monuments have often been used to promote an ideology known as the" Lost Cause. "It claimed that the Confederation was founded to defend the rights of states and that slavery was not the main cause of the civil war," it says in the plaque. "... Although the memorial was created in honor of the victim of the Confederate soldiers, it must also remind us that the defeat of the Confederacy really meant freedom for millions of people."
Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twittter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.
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