Organization offers alternate resolution to UT
By Mark Son
After praying in front of the statue of Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Texas Division declared their opposition to a proposal to move Confederate statues off the South Mall.
The group presented a resolution citing their opposition to University officials Thursday. Charles Roeckle, deputy to UT President Larry Faulkner, said he would pass the resolution on to the president.
Controversy over the statues resurfaced last January when the Task Force on Racial Respect and Fairness recommended relocation of the statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, which are currently on the South Mall. Faulkner has not yet assigned a committee to consider relocation of the statues, although Roeckle said he will do so soon.
Presenting the resolution was the climax of Veterans Day. The group began by dressing in Confederate uniforms and gathering at the Texas State Cemetery to remember fallen Confederate soldiers.
"It’s not enough for them to take our flag," said Terry Ayers, group spokesman. "Now they want our statues."
Ayers said the Sons of the Confederate Veterans are not asking for decision-making power but rather to have its voice heard in the relocation process.
He said the statues represent men who fought for Texas, and they should be remembered in prominent places on the UT campus.
"They want to put the statues in the Ransom Center," Ayers said. "I’ve been there, and it’s not a proper venue to place statues. It’s a place to hide statues."
But Langston Wilkins, English junior and vice president of the University of Texas Longhorn College Chapter of the NAACP, said simply moving the statues won’t change the history of racial discrimination on campus.
"Relocation of statues would be a nice display of solidarity," he said. "But removing the statues is not going to remove what they did."
The group’s resolution supports the University’s efforts to promote racial, ethnic and cultural diversity as long as Confederate heritage is not "forgotten, diminished or neglected."
Shelby Little, a retired Army colonel who drove from Katy to participate in the Veterans Day events, said the issue is personal because his ancestor fought for the Confederacy. He said he is trying to protect something dear to him.
"I have my ancestors’ blood in my veins," he said. "And I wouldn’t fight to keep somebody under slavery. I mean, slavery was a big issue, but I think it was a battle against northern states imposing their will on the South."
Roeckle said part of the problem with the statues is Pompeo Coppini’s original artistic intentions were never realized.
Coppini envisioned six statues from the Civil War era to World War I to surround Littlefield Fountain, showing the unity of the Confederacy and the Union in the post-Civil War era.
However, Paul Cret, designer of the first campus master plan, placed the statues along the mall to avoid clutter. The symbolism changed completely, Faulkner wrote in his response to the Task Force on Racial Respect and Fairness.
Roeckle said it’s a misconception that only Confederate statues might be moved. He said the committee Faulkner plans to appoint will decide the fate of all six statues along the South Mall: George Washington, Jefferson Davis, James Stephen Hogg, Albert Sidney Johnston, John H. Reagan and Robert E. Lee.