In June 2016, it was announced that the plaque in front of the Confederate Statue in the Circle on the Ole Miss campus would be replaced with a new plaque after receiving input from various organizations such as the local chapter of the NAACP and Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. This is a step taken to further former Chancellor Dan Jone’s 2014 action plan to place historical context on some of the University’s confederate symbols throughout the campus. When the wording for the new plaque was announced, the lack of any mention of slavery caused controversy, prompting immediate action. The old plaque read as follows and can be seen below.
“AS CONFEDERATE VETERANS WERE PASSING FROM THE SCENE IN INCREASING NUMBERS, MEMORIAL ASSOCIATIONS BUILT MONUMENTS IN THEIR MEMORY ALL ACROSS THE SOUTH. THIS STATUE WAS DEDICATED BY CITIZENS OF OXFORD AND LAFAYETTE COUNTY IN 1906. ON THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 30, 1962, THE STATUE WAS A RALLYING POINT WHERE A REBELLIOUS MOB GATHERED TO PREVENT THE ADMISSION OF THE UNIVERSITY’S FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENT. IT WAS ALSO AT THIS STATUE THAT A LOCAL MINISTER IMPLORED THE MOB TO DISPERSE AND ALLOW JAMES MEREDITH TO EXERCISE HIS RIGHTS AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. ON THE MORNING AFTER THAT LONG NIGHT, MEREDITH WAS ADMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY AND GRADUATED IN AUGUST 1963.
THIS HISTORIC STATUE IS A REMINDER OF THE UNIVERSITY’S PAST AND OF ITS CURRENT AND ONGOING COMMITMENT TO OPEN ITS HALLOWED HALLS TO ALL WHO SEEK TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM”
Earlier today, the old plaque was taken down and the new plaque was officially erected in its place. Vitter announced the official language of the new plaque via email to students and faculty back in June. The new plaque can be seen in the photo below, and reads as follows:
AS CONFEDERATE VETERANS WERE DYING IN INCREASING NUMBERS, MEMORIAL ASSOCIATIONS ACROSS THE SOUTH BUILT MONUMENTS IN THEIR MEMORY. THESE MONUMENTS WERE OFTEN USED TO PROMOTE AN IDEOLOGY KNOWN AS THE “LOST CAUSE,” WHICH CLAIMED THAT THE CONFEDERACY HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED TO DEFEND STATES’ RIGHTS AND THAT SLAVERY WAS NOT THE PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF THE CIVIL WAR. RESIDENTS OF OXFORD AND LAFAYETTE COUNTY DEDICATED THIS STATUE, APPROVED BY THE UNIVERSITY, IN 1906. ALTHOUGH THE MONUMENT WAS CREATED TO HONOR THE SACRIFICE OF LOCAL CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS, IT MUST ALSO REMIND US THAT THE DEFEAT OF THE CONFEDERACY ACTUALLY MEANT FREEDOM FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. ON THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 30, 1962, THIS STATUE WAS A RALLYING POINT FOR OPPONENTS OF INTEGRATION.
THIS HISTORIC STATUE IS A REMINDER OF THE UNIVERSITY’S DIVISIVE PAST. TODAY, THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI DRAWS FROM THAT PAST A CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO OPEN ITS HALLOWED HALLS TO ALL WHO SEEK TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, AND WISDOM.”
For Chancellor Vitter’s full statement on the matter, click here.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.