Update (1:49 a.m.): UT’s student body president and vice president told The Daily Texan on Sunday night that they have been in contact with President Gregory Fenves’ office since Wednesday over removing the three Confederate monuments from the Main Mall.
Student body vice president Micky Wolf, a Plan II and business honors senior, said the two were surprised after coming out of a 10:15 p.m. meeting Sunday night to hear University leadership inform them that the statues would be removed by the end of the night.
“We are proud to see them come down and we were pretty shocked to hear they were coming down tonight, but we applaud Fenves for acting so quickly,” Wolf said. “Tonight we saw the power of student advocacy.”
Student body president Alejandrina Guzman said she sees the removal of the statues as a move in the right direction.
“It’s about time,” said Guzman, a government and Mexican-American studies senior.
“I’m proud to be a Longhorn tonight,” she added. “I think about all the students of color and black students who have to pass by these statues every day, and I’m proud that they are down now.”
Update (1:11 a.m.): A construction crew has finished removing a statue of former Texas Gov. James Hogg from the University’s Main Mall and is currently working on taking down one depicting John Reagan, a former Confederate postmaster, in a process expected to go well into the night.
After both statues are taken down, the crew will move to the other two monuments that line the Main Mall: former Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Johnston. UT officials said the removal of the statues was planned for the middle of the night Sunday to ensure "public safety and to minimize disruption to the campus.”
Humanities senior Haley Galloway was one in a small crowd of onlookers who gathered on the Main Mall shortly after Fenves’ email. She said the relocation is good for the University, because cities and other campuses should not have monuments honoring former generals and leaders of the Confederacy unless they want to appear as though they support racism.
“We don’t need these symbols of the Confederacy because they’re doing nothing but propping up a system that promoted slavery,” Galloway said. “We put (statues like these) in museums so we can learn about them there, but we’re not supposed to promote them and honor them in the public forum.”
Government sophomore Madison Goodrich said having the monuments of Confederate leaders on campus goes against the University’s message of inclusiveness for people of all backgrounds.
“When you put something in a museum, that’s history, that’s an artifact; you’re going in there to learn about a part of history,” Goodrich said. “Having a memorial or a monument for someone, that’s giving them power or praise, and I don’t think we should be praising proponents of slavery.”
Original post: The three remaining Confederate statues that line UT-Austin’s Main Mall were removed in the middle of the night Sunday and relocated to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, President Gregory Fenves announced in an email to the UT community.
The three statues honoring Confederate figures depict Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan, two former generals and a postmaster of the Confederacy. A fourth statue of James S. Hogg, a former Texas governor, will be considered for re-installation to another spot on campus, Fenves said.
The relocation comes less than a week after a deadly protest at the University of Virginia, where a group of white supremacists fought the proposed removal of a Confederate monument depicting Lee, leaving one woman dead and several more injured. The city of Austin and several others around the country swiftly moved to take down remaining vestiges to the Confederacy, including street signs and monuments.
“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” Fenves said in the email. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.” (Read President Fenves' full email here.)
In summer 2015, after white supremacist Dylann Roof opened fire inside a predominately black church in Charleston, S.C., Fenves authorized a task force to look at the then-seven statues lining the Main Mall, paying particular attention to the monument depicting Jefferson Davis, a former Confederate president. The statue was taken down on Aug. 30, 2015 and relocated to the Briscoe Center, while a monument depicting former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was also taken down and is currently in storage, according to the Dallas Morning News.