University of Texas Reneges on Promise to Leave Inscription
The University of Texas has quietly removed an inscription honoring the Confederacy and Southern pride from the South Mall nearly a year after UT President Gregory L. Fenves said that the inscription “will remain in place.” on August 13th 2015.
Fenves told the American-Statesman this week that he decided this spring that the inscription had to go. The inscription is dedicated to “the men and women of the Confederacy who fought with valor and suffered with fortitude that states rights be maintained” and who were “not dismayed by defeat nor discouraged by misrule.” It makes no mention of slavery. “It is inappropriate for our goal of diversity and inclusion on campus,” Fenves said.
The stone panels bearing the inscription were removed from a wall just west of the Littlefield Fountain last month. Although a public announcement didn’t seem warranted, Fenves said, there was no effort to hide the work, which took place in the open. The panels are in storage for now and will be considered for possible exhibition at UT’s Briscoe Center for American History, Fenves said.
In deciding at that time to retain the inscription, Fenves rejected an advisory panel’s recommendation to remove it. Instead, Fenves said he would consider placing a plaque near the fountain to provide historical context for the inscription and the remaining statues. The UT president told the Statesman that the inscription remained “in the back of my mind” for months.
I think it is great news that the university has taken a positive step to make the university more welcoming to African-American students,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP. “Such inscriptions and displays are psychologically and emotionally harmful to many citizens, and they inhibit the university’s efforts to be widely considered to be a top international institution.”
Officials of the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which sued unsuccessfully last year in an effort to block the removal of the Davis statue, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The university has struggled for decades to overcome its segregated history. African-American students were barred from attending until the summer of 1950, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered UT to admit a black man to its School of Law. In recent years, UT added statues of prominent black and Hispanic figures to the campus. And in June the Supreme Court upheld UT’s consideration of race and ethnicity in undergraduate admissions.