University of Mississippi Plans to Be More Upfront With Its Past

The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context was established at the University of Mississippi in 2016. The committee was charged with recommending which additional physical sites on the Oxford campus (beyond those already completed) should be contextualized, so as to explain the environment in which they were created or named. Secondly, the committee was tasked with designing the content and format to contextualize the recommended sites.

The university administration recently announced the steps they would take concerning the recommendations made by the committee. The following campus sites will be contextualized with plaques: Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, Longstreet Hall and George Hall. A plaque will be placed within sight of Barnard Observatory, the Croft Building, the Lyceum and Hilgard Cut (a railroad cut on campus) noting that these were constructed with the use of slave labor.

The university also announced that it will seek to rename Vardaman Hall. James Vardaman was governor of Mississippi and later represented the state in the U.S. Senate. At one point in his career, Senator Vardaman stated, “I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the coconut-headed, chocolate-colored typical little coon who blacks my shoes every morning.”

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