University of Texas in Austin has begun the removal of its iconic, over-sized statue of Jefferson Davis after a March vote by the university’s student body voted to remove the statue. This large bronze depiction has stood on the grounds of the campus since 1933. It is being relocated after a legal appeal by the Sons of Confederate Veterans that strove to keep the controversial monument in place was rejected. The Sons of Confederate Veterans stated that removal of the historical statues were similar to the destruction of precious artifacts by the Islamic State groups occurring in the Middle East. Thus, removal was halted initially to allow for the student vote to occur. Judge Karin Crump ruled that Texas officials, under the state law, ultimately have the authority to choose where the statue should rest. Additionally, a second statue that depicts President Woodrow Wilson will also be transferred to another location on campus grounds.
Both statues will receive a refurbishment and be placed in new locations on campus. Plans to move the statue of Davis, the leader of the confederacy during the Civil War from 1861-65, to the University of Texas’ Briscoe Center for American History will take place in about a year and a half once it has finished its renovations. The statue of the nation’s 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, will remain on the University’s grounds but at a different location.
The campus has other confederate figures represented on campus as well. Statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney will stay at their current locations on University grounds.
Davis’s statue could be seen being carefully wrapped in protective plastic on Sunday near the university’s well known clock tower. It had been a target for vandalism and criticism recently as individuals had began to see it as a racist symbol due to the shootings in June that occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina by a white supremacist. This event has caused many organizations nationwide to reconsider many confederate symbols and the message they send in our society today.
Placing these relics in museums out of public view is said to be a means of keeping them in their proper historical context. It is not a way to hide things but they no longer represent the countries ideals and should be seen as historical artifacts and nothing more. Many feel the new location at the Briscoe Center History Museum is a more appropriate place since the idea is not to whitewash away the history just to give it a more suitable location. The museum has one of the largest slavery archives in the United States.