Universities Take Steps to Remove Symbols That Many African Americans Found Offensive

Last week a JBHE post reported that Vanderbilt University was paying $1.2 million to the United Daughters of the Confederacy to be able to remove the word “Confederate” from the facade of Memorial Hall on campus. The United Daughters of the Confederacy had contributed to the funding of the original construction of the building.

ut-austinNow the University of Texas, which earlier had removed a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from a prominent position on campus, has removed an inscription honoring those who fought for the Confederacy from a wall on the South Mall on campus. The inscription was dedicated to “the men and women who fought with valor and suffered with fortitude that states rights be maintained.” The inscription has been on the wall since the early 1930s. The panels removed from the wall were placed in storage and may be displayed in a campus museum at some point in the future.

Plantations1_0In another related development, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has decided to change the name of the Cornell Plantations to the Cornell Botanic Gardens. The 3,500-acre area is home to 50,000 plants and is visited by 70,000 people annually. The university stated that Botanic Gardens is a more accurate description of the site than the word plantations. Last November, the group Black Students United wrote a letter to the university’s president calling for the named to be changed.

And in a statement the university acknowledged that the historical connotations of the word plantations was a factor in the decision to change the name. Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life stated that “since Cornell opened its door for ‘any person, any study’ we’ve placed a high value on providing an inclusive environment. Renaming Cornell Plantations not only respects the richness of this great natural and scientific resource, it shows our full respect for the diverse and highly valued community of students and scholars this university is fortunate enough to serve.”

2000px-Flag_of_Mississippi.svgFinally, officials at Mississippi State University and Mississippi University for Women have stopped flying the Mississippi State flag on campus. The state flag includes the Confederate Battle Flag in one corner. Jim Borsig, president of the Mississippi University for Women stated that “the university community supports a flag that unites everyone in the state behind it.”

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