I am writing to provide you with information on the university’s continued implementation of strategies to recognize our history in a balanced and contextual manner.
To that end, the university has begun work at the Confederate statue in the Lyceum Circle to contextualize the history surrounding the memorial. A concrete pad has been laid at the site in preparation for placement of a plaque, which is expected to be in place by month’s end.
Language on the plaque will read as follows:
“As Confederate veterans were passing from the scene in increasing numbers, memorial associations built monuments in their memory all across the South. This statue was dedicated by citizens of Oxford and Lafayette County in 1906. On the evening of September 30, 1962, the statue was a rallying point where a rebellious mob gathered to prevent the admission of the University’s first African American student. It was also at this statue that a local minister implored the mob to disperse and allow James Meredith to exercise his rights as an American citizen. On the morning after that long night, Meredith was admitted to the University and graduated in August 1963.
“This historic structure is a reminder of the University’s past and of its current and ongoing commitment to open its hallowed halls to all who seek truth and knowledge and wisdom.”
The placement of this plaque puts the statue into proper context and affirms, as in our UM Creed, our respect for the dignity of each person.
I would like to thank the committee members, Drs. Donald Cole, Andy Mullins, Charles Ross, and David Sansing, who were appointed by Dr. Morris Stocks to draft the language of this plaque. They have done an outstanding job of balancing history and perspective, and we owe them our thanks for their thoughtful work.
Further details appear in a press release that will be issued soon from the university.
As always, I appreciate your support of the university and look forward to our continued conversations.
Have a good spring break week,
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Chancellor and Distinguished Professor