By Kyeland Jackson —
Construction crews began dismantling U of L’s controversial Confederate statue Saturday. The statue has a new home: Brandenburg, Kentucky.
Mayor Greg Fischer’s office announced the move in a news release Nov.15, stating the statue is moving to a Civil War site in Brandenburg. A time capsule, supposedly embedded in the statue, will be loaned to the Filson Historical Society.
“This new location provides an opportunity to remember and respect our history in a more proper context,” Fischer said. “And it’s close enough that Louisvillians can visit.”
Acting President Neville Pinto commented on the statue’s removal.
“We are pleased that Louisville Metro and the city of Brandenburg are working to ensure a proper and fitting location for the statue,” Pinto said. “While we do not wish to erase history, the University of Louisville is looking to a future that embraces and promotes diversity and inclusion for all our faculty, students and staff.”
U of L’s Foundation will pay a majority of expenses, funding $350,000 for its removal. The city will pay $50,000.
The Brandenburg City Council and Meade County Fiscal Court accepted the statue Wednesday. Disassembly began Nov. 19. The statue will be moved to Brandenburg the week of Nov. 28.
The move affects students and non-students who regularly walk past the statue, with some approving its removal.
“I think what they’re doing is appropriate, taking it somewhere where it can be more appreciated in a better context,” freshman Noah Noel said. “We shouldn’t destroy our history, but we shouldn’t have a monument like this in the middle of a college campus. I’m not personally offended by it, but I can see where it could be very offensive to some people.”
“I’m just glad that they’re taking it down,” non-student Uganda said. In light of job interests, Uganda did not disclose her full name. “So I’m just glad that it’s being taken down becuase I feel like it means a lot to the African-American community.”
Others don’t have opinions on the matter.
“I really don’t care that much. It’s fine if they want to move it, it’s just whatever they want to do,” freshman Joseph Baxter said. “It’s no skin off my nose what they want to do.”
Statue supporters called moving it an “erasure of history,” protesting before a judge granted the city authority to remove it. Jamey Howe and John Faughender, non-student employees at the Speed Art Museum across the street from the statue, approve its removal.
“Erasing history? It would be erasing history if things didn’t evolve and change,” Howe said. “If you tore it down maybe, but they’re moving it so it’s not like it’s erasing it completely.”
“I don’t know why it has a place on a college campus,” Howe said. “I think that putting it in a different location, somewhere where maybe you’d have more respect is a better idea. It’s subject to vandalism now that it’s almost like a target. They’ve had it gated off for months now.”
Located between Third Street and the Speed Art Museum, the statue was gifted to Louisville by the Kentucky Women’s Confederate Monument Association in 1895 and commemorates confederate Kentuckians who fought and died in the Civil War.
Standing on campus for more than a century, the 121-year-old statue was first slated for removal by former U of L President James Ramsey and Mayor Greg Fischer seven months ago. Controversy ensnared the statue since, drawing protestors, litigation to stop the move and verbal blows between advocates and detractors. The statue’s removal was later approved, leaving the unanswered question of where it would relocate. Fischer chose Brandenburg based on recommendations by Louisville’s Commission on Public Art.
Removal of the statue will shut down Second and Third Street from Nov. 19-23. If disassembly is not completed in time for the U of L and UK football game, one lane will open for both directions.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal