University Of Texas Ponders Confederate Statue Controversy

December 28, 2006
William Macklin – All Headline News Staff Reporter

Austin, TX (AHN) – Four bronze statues depicting leaders of the Confederacy have
been at the center of a long-standing debate about race and history, at the University
of Texas. Now, the school’s new president hopes a newly appointed panel will resolve
the conflict.

The statues depicting Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert
E. Lee and Albert Johnston, and Confederate postmaster general John H. Reagan,
have prompted repeated protests and complaints from students, faculty and Austin
residents. On Wednesday, UT’s new president, William Powers, Jr. said he had
appointed a new advisory committee to sort out the conflict. Powers took over
as president earlier this month.

Critics have long contended that the Confederate statues are an insulting reminder
of racial intolerance inappropriate to a diverse university campus. Supporters
of the statues say they are important symbols of Southern history and culture.

"A lot of students, and especially minority students, have raised concerns,"
said Powers in an interview published by the Austin American-Statesman. "And
those are understandable and legitimate concerns. On the other hand, the statues
have been here for a long time, and that’s something we have to take into account
as well."

In 2004, a task force examining "Racial Respect and Fairness" at
the university recommended adding more diverse figures to UT’s campus statuary,
including images of Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan and farm workers leader Cesar
Chavez. Jordan was African-American and Chavez was Mexican-American. Statues
of Jordan and Chavez have been approved and would join a statue of Martin Luther
King Jr. which was raised in 1999.

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