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Confederate Memorials and Historic Representation

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Background Summary 

In 2015, following the report of a task force on historical representation of statues at UT Austin, President Gregory L. Fenves decided to move two statues  – statues of Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson – from the Main Mall to the Briscoe Center for American History. Wilson was moved for symmetry, due to its position on the mall.

In late August 2017, following the “horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville,” President Fenves talked with student leaders, students, faculty members, staff members and alumni and decided to relocate the remaining four statues on the mall: Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg. As the president wrote at the time, the events in Charlottesville made “it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”  He added, “The university has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.”

Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize.

The Lee, Johnston and Reagan statues were added to the collection of the Briscoe Center for scholarly study. The statue of James Hogg, governor of Texas (1891-1895), will be re-installed at another campus site.

Campus leaders are currently reviewing whether the plinths on which the statues stood should be removed or whether they should be maintained, with appropriate context provided, as an educational tool.

UT Austin Experts

Don Carleton – Executive Director – Briscoe Center for American History

Ben Wright – Assistant Director for Communications – Briscoe Center for American History


Report from the Task Force on Historical Representation of Statuary at UT Austin

Messages to campus

Confederate Statues on Campus – from President Gregory L. Fenves – Aug. 20, 2017

President Fenves’ Decision on UT Austin Statuary – Aug. 13, 2015


The Rise and Fall of Silent Sam – Chronicle of Higher Education – Aug. 21, 2018

University of Texas at Austin Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation  – New York Times – Aug. 21, 2017

Confederate Statues Come Down At The University Of Texas – National Public Radio – Aug. 21, 2017

When a Bronze Confederate Needed to Retire, University of Texas Found a Home – USA Today – Aug. 18, 2017

Where Do Confederate Monuments Go After They Come Down? – WABE – Aug. 5, 2018

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