Mayor Greg Fischer and University of Louisville President James Ramsey announced Friday the Confederate statue on U of L’s Belknap campus will be removed.
Ramsey, via Twitter, said the monument would be removed immediately. “It is time for U of L to step forward in partnership with the city of Louisville to remove the monument…in respect of all people.”
Ramsey said a campus diversity committee recommended the university remove the statue.
The removal of the Confederate monument will also be the first tangible action for reworking the Third Street corridor near the entrance to the recently opened Speed Art Museum, Ramsey said.
Fischer tweeted that the statue would be removed Friday and stored for the time being. He wrote, “The stain of slavery & racism that this monument represents for many, many people has no place in a compassionate, forward leaning city.”
The structure came to Louisville as a gift from the Kentucky Woman’s Monument Association to commemorate the Kentuckians who fought and died for the Confederacy during the Civil War. It’s stood for 121 years. It reaches nearly 70 feet into the sky and its foundation of century old concrete and brick sinks nearly five feet into the dirt.
When first erected, it stood beyond the reaches of the U of L campus. But as time passed, the growing campus came to encircle the monument. Debate raged for years about who owned the ground on which the monument stood.
Dr. Ricky Jones chairs the university’s Pan-African Studies Department. Earlier this month, he penned an op-ed in the Courier-Journal calling for the monument’s removal, which sparked a conversation on social media drawing support and criticism of the notion to rid the campus of the Confederate relic.
Jones on Friday said the structure is “a symbol of slavery, of hatred, or white supremacy, of disrespect, of inhumanity.” He said removing it is a positive step towards advancing racial equity in Louisville, but its disassembly alone won’t end racism, in general.
“It’s an ongoing struggle,” he said.
Poverty, incarceration rates, recidivism and infant mortality are issues that cannot be ignored when it comes to fostering a compassionate, inclusive and just society, Jones said.
Caitlyn Edwards is a music major at the University of Louisville. She said allowing the monument to remain on the campus, towering over thousands of minority students, can serve to perpetuate racist feelings.
And she echoed Jones in that taking it down, however uplifting the move may be, won’t eliminate disparities among races — or racism.
“But it is a positive step,” she said.
Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy said the news of the statues imminent removal makes for a great day.
He said the next step should be to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis currently standing in the rotunda of the Kentucky state capitol building.
“A person of color needs to be placed in there,” he said. “To say there has been no people of color and no women in Kentucky’s history who have provided significant historical contributions to the Commonwealth is false, and we need to recognize that.”
Fischer said the plan will be to disassemble the monument and store it until another location can be secured for it’s placement.
Jones likened anyone who’d accept such a structure on their property as someone who is sympathetic to the Confederate cause.
“I don’t care,” he said. “I can’t worry about that. I’m just happy it’s gone from here, where we live and fight, at the University of Louisville.”