The board of regents of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has decided to remove a statue of former president Rufus Burleson from the quadrangle that has borne his name. The space will now be known simply as The Quadrangle.
The historic bells on The Quadrangle — believed to have been used on slave-labor plantations before they were given to the university — will be relocated to the site of Baylor’s original campus at Independence.
The Commission on Historic Campus Representations at Baylor issued a report in December 2020 that found that all three of Baylor’s primary founders were slave owners, 11 of Baylor’s first 15 members of the board of trustees were slave owners, and Baylor’s first four presidents were slave owners.
Burleson was president of Baylor University from 1851 to 1861 in Independence and from 1886 to 1897 in Waco. He owned a least one slave. He was a colonel in the Confederate Army and served as a chaplain.
“Our goal at the outset of this process was not to erase Baylor’s history, but rather to tell the university’s complete story by taking an additive approach as we shine light on the past,” board President Mark Rountree said in a statement. “Some of the facts uncovered about the university’s history have indeed been painful, but it is important that we move forward together as the Baylor Family through an intentional process of reckoning, repentance, reconciliation, and redemption.”