By Nick Amon —
As the fall semester approaches and the majority of us are faced with the usually overcrowded sidewalks, long food lines and annoyingly redundant syllabus explanations, the sense of familiarity can be a tad overwhelming, to say the least. Although this familiarity can have its perks from time to time for knowing what to expect and when to expect it, there’s something in particular that has eluded all of our expectations for the beginning of the 2016-17’ school year, and the funny part is, we walk past it nearly every day.
Back in late April, Mayor Greg Fischer and former U of L President James Ramsey announced that the 121-year-old Confederate monument between The Ville Grill and the Speed Art Museum would be removed. This announcement came after years of controversy surrounding the monument, and more recently after the Chair of Pan-African studies and U of L professor, Ricky L. Jones scrutinized the presence of the monument in an op-ed published by The Courier-Journal.
Fischer announced alongside Ramsey that the monument would be disassembled, repaired and lastly cleaned before it is placed into storage awaiting relocation. Unfortunately for us and the community that has to withstand this eyesore on a daily basis, none of this has actually happened.
What has happened is a considerable amount of counterproductive moves that have either prolonged the process of the monument’s removal or furthered the debate that the monument should stay where it’s at regardless of its blatant disregard for a forward thinking environment.
Unnecessary lawsuits from former congressional candidate Everett Corley, and pressure from groups such as Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of Confederates, have added to the hysteria behind the monument’s removal. Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell fought against this aforementioned lawsuit in late May, and it has since been lifted by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman. Both Burkman and O’Connell sided with Fischer’s initial plans for removal.
More or less, as the majority of us were settling into our summer breaks by relaxing at the pool or heading down to the beach, arguments of where and if the statue should be removed were exhausted to an almost annoying degree. And even though honorable approaches to replace the monument with a statue of Louisville native Muhammad Ali have been widely petitioned, there’s hardly been any progress for the time being.
The most embarrassing part of this entire situation is that it’s 2016 and we’re still having to jump through so many hoops to remove a symbol that represents a time where owning human beings was a formidable cause to fight for.
You’d think immediately after the restraining order was lifted back in May that we would’ve seen leaps towards getting it as far away from campus as possible. Yet here we are, starting the fall semester off with an ugly reminder that even though we can escape the classrooms for a few months and enjoy our time off, problems we had going into the summer will be here to greet us once more when school begins.
It must be extremely welcoming to the incoming freshmen class to be greeted by a monument that’s been around since a time in when it was looked down upon for white people to even hold conversations with others outside of their race. What a great first impression.
At a time where racial tensions continue to boil, it’s important we look at the removal of this monument from a progressive standpoint.
If we claim to be a university who prides itself on diversity, it might just be time to get rid of the one thing on campus that screams intolerance.