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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and University of Louisville President James Ramsey announced Friday that the Confederate monument on Third Street at UofL’s Belknap campus will be moved to a new location to be determined at a later date.
“It’s always important to remember and respect our history, but it’s equally important to reflect on that history in proper context,” Fischer said. “This monument represents our history; a painful part of our nation’s history for many — and it’s best moved to a new location.”
But, in a Courier-Journal article by reporter Phillip Bailey, the Mayor was quoted as saying the monument “no longer has a place in Louisville.” So, the question of where the “new location” is, appears up in the air. Doubtless, it will be thrown into the Municipal Landfill, along with the numerous other Louisville historical relics the city fathers have “salvaged” over the past few years.
The Mayor promised that the statue will be held in storage until an appropriate historical location is selected. Leadership in Mayor Fischer’s and President Ramsey’s offices have been working on the move for several weeks and will be discussing the options for an appropriate historical venue in the near future. While the monument is disassembled, the university will clean and repair the bronze figures and embellishments—something that has not been done since 1895.
Members of the University of Louisville Diversity Committee, comprised of students, faculty and staff appointed by President Ramsey, listed the removal of the statue as one of their highest priorities to improve diversity and inclusion on campus.
“We are not here to erase history, but we are here to announce that this statue should be situated somewhere more appropriate than a modern campus that celebrates its diversity,” Dr. Ramsey said. “Kentucky certainly played a unique role in the Civil War, but it is the culture of inclusion we strive for each day at UofL that will define our future. Over the years, our campus has grown to encircle this monument, which does not symbolize the values of our campus community or that of a 21st Century institution of higher education.”
The statue was gifted to the city by the Kentucky Woman’s Monument Association in 1895 to commemorate the Kentuckians who fought and died for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Once the statue is removed, the median on Third Street will be replaced with a new lane to improve access to the Speed Art Museum and assist traffic flow around the University. UofL and city officials plan to have the work completed as soon as possible now that students have left the campus for the summer.
Mayor Greg Fischer's remarks on the removal of the Confederate statue:
"When the Confederate Monument on South Third Street was built in the 1890s, there was a conversation in the community about where it should be placed. It was partly about geography, but it was also about the context of the day and the legacy of the Civil War.
"It was a complicated question in 1895 with Union and Confederate veterans along with freed slaves and their families living in this city, passing each other on the same streets.
"Today, 121 years later, we can understand the complicated nature of 1895 and appreciate that the citizens felt like placing this memorial on 3rd Street was the right decision to make.
"But today, a different decision has been made.
"There are practical reasons for why this statue should not be here — like the traffic complications it causes turning in and out of the beautiful new Speed.
"There are civic reasons for why this statue should not be here — like citizens objecting to having a monument to the Confederacy placed on public land.
"I recognize that some people say this monument should stay because it is part of our history.
"But I also appreciate that we can make our own history.
"The stain of slavery and racism that this monument represents for many, many people has no place in a compassionate, forward leaning city.
"I know that some people may be upset by the removal of this statue, others will be upset that it is not being blown up. But it is inarguably a part of our history, and it will be moved to a more appropriate place where those who wish to visit it for its historical significance will be free to do so.
"I would like to thank all of the people that have contributed to the action that is being taken today – President Ramsey, the UofL Foundation, the state’s transportation department, educators, and activists.
"It is a testament to our citizens that we can make this happen as one people moving together to help create a better tomorrow.
"Today, the removal of this monument is another step of progress on the city’s journey toward creating a home where everyone feels welcome.
"There will always be more work to do on the path to justice. Today, we made a down payment."
Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) issued this statement: “I heartily welcome Mayor Fischer and President Ramsey’s decision to remove the Confederate monument from UofL’s campus. It honors a shameful episode in our nation's history, one that represents a hateful division and fails to truly reflect our city and Commonwealth’s role in the Civil War.”