Officials with the University of Texas ordered an after midnight removal of three Confederate statues from its campus. Workers removed the memorials under cover of darkness while a fourth remains for a later relocation.
“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” University of Texas President Greg Fenves wrote in a message released shortly before the removal of the statues. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-nazism.”
“We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus,” Fenves continued. “As UT students return in the coming week, I look forward to welcoming them here for a new academic year with a recommitment to an open, positive and inclusive learning environment for all.”
Workers quickly removed statues depicting U.S./Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Texas/U.S./Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate Postmaster General John H. Reagan.
A statue of former Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg (a child at the time of the Civil War) is also being removed. Hogg was the son of Confederate General Joseph Lewis Hogg who died in combat in 1862. Hogg became the first native-born governor of Texas in 1891.
“The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize.” Fenves continued. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African-Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”
Fenves waited until shortly before the pre-dawn removal of the statues to send out his announcement.
The UT president said the statues of Lee, Johnston, Reagan, and Hogg are being moved from the Main Mall. They will be installed in the Briscoe Center for the purpose of “scholarly study.” Governor Hogg’s statue will possibly be relocated at a different location on campus.
Fenves concluded his message, “I look forward to welcoming them (the students) here for a new academic year with a recommitment to an open, positive, and inclusive learning environment for all.”