By Sam Draut–
City workers began dismantling the highly controversial Confederate monument on the north end of U of L’s Belknap campus Friday. The 70-foot monument faces north and commemorates Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Completed in the 1895, the monument has stood for 120 years on Third Street, but will be relocated.
U of L President James Ramsey said the time was right for the monument to be taken down and followed “the example of civil rights leaders.” Though the statue is not owned by U of L, campus and city officials worked together for the removal of the monument. Ramsey said there was movement from faculty and staff in the past year to begin the process.
U of L’s Diversity Committee of faculty, students and staff listed the statue as one of their highest priorities to improve on-campus diversity.
Ramsey said U of L has a “responsibility to our students to provide world class education and share our views we hold so dearly.”
“This monument has no place in this city,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. “It is a testament to our citizens that we can make this happen.”
Fischer said it was unclear of who owned the statue, but the university, city and state came together to remove it.
“It is another step of progress for everyone to come and feel welcome here in our city,” Fischer said. “There are reasons for this monument to not be here on public property.”
Until an appropriate historical location is selected, the monument will be held in storage. The statue was donated to the city by the Kentucky Woman’s Monument Association in 1895 to honor the Kentuckians who fought for the Confederacy.
After the statue is removed, the median in between second and third street will be replaced with a new lane to help traffic flow to the Speed Art Museum and campus access.
Last week, the Courier-Journal published an op-ed written by Pan-African Studies Chair Ricky Jones that demanded the removal of the monument. Jones said he and other on-campus officials have worked for 20 years to remove the statue.
Photos by Sam Draut & Sarah Rohleder
This story will be updated.