The University of Louisville and the city of Louisville announced Friday that a monument (at right) that salutes Confederate soldiers from Kentucky who died in the Civil War will be removed from the university campus and eventually placed elsewhere. “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,” said a statement from James Ramsey, the university's president. “Kentucky certainly played a unique role in the Civil War, but it is the culture of inclusion we strive for each day at U of L 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.”
Many have been pushing for years for the statue's removal. A recent essay by Ricky L. Jones, professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at Louisville, said, "Let me be clear about what the battle flag, statues and other symbols of the Confederacy are. They are representations of hate, emptied-out ideas of racial superiority, inhumanity and devilishness. The Civil War was not a war of 'northern aggression' fought by sympathetic, victimized Gone With the Wind characters. It was a war about slavery -- plain and simple. It was a conflict the South started to maintain its right to continue playing pharaoh and endlessly force its black brutes to make bricks out of straw. Every battle flag, T-shirt and monument to these inhumane traitors reminds us of that fact."
Students and gay rights groups object to University of Utah plans to award an honorary degree to philanthropist with ties to anti-LGBT organizations. And university didn't win over critics by scrubbing her bio.
Middle Tennessee State University has announced plans to change the name of Forrest Hall, which honors Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate military leader who went on, for a time, to be a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Sidney A. McPhee, president of the university, said he was following the recommendation of a panel appointed to consider the name of Forrest Hall.
“It is clear that there are many wide-ranging and contradicting views about the life and legacy of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest,” McPhee said in a letter about his decision. “I do not feel it is my role to discern the appropriateness or relevance of his actions prior, during or after the Civil War. It is appropriate, however, for me to assess whether the decision made in the middle of the 20th century to name the building for General Forrest remains in our best interest in the second decade of the 21st century.”
Prompted by recent laws permitting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in places like North Carolina, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Board of Governors on Wednesday adopted new antidiscrimination policies for sites hosting major NCAA championship events, such as the men’s basketball Final Four.
“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors, said in a statement. “So it is important that we assure that community -- including our student-athletes and fans -- will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination.”
The NCAA has recently come under fire from LGBT rights groups for not taking so strong a stance against anti-LGBT policies among its own members, including at religious institutions that have received waivers allowing them to discriminate against transgender students.