December 28, 2006
William Macklin – All Headline News Staff Reporter

Austin, TX (AHN) – Four bronze statues depicting leaders of the Confederacy have been at the center of a long-standing debate about race and history, at the University of Texas. Now, the school’s new president hopes a newly appointed panel will resolve the conflict.

The statues depicting Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Johnston, and Confederate postmaster general John H. Reagan, have prompted repeated protests and complaints from students, faculty and Austin residents. On Wednesday, UT’s new president, William Powers, Jr. said he had appointed a new advisory committee to sort out the conflict. Powers took over as president earlier this month.

Critics have long contended that the Confederate statues are an insulting reminder of racial intolerance inappropriate to a diverse university campus. Supporters of the statues say they are important symbols of Southern history and culture.

"A lot of students, and especially minority students, have raised concerns," said Powers in an interview published by the Austin American-Statesman. "And those are understandable and legitimate concerns. On the other hand, the statues have been here for a long time, and that’s something we have to take into account as well."

In 2004, a task force examining "Racial Respect and Fairness" at the university recommended adding more diverse figures to UT’s campus statuary, including images of Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan and farm workers leader Cesar Chavez. Jordan was African-American and Chavez was Mexican-American. Statues of Jordan and Chavez have been approved and would join a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. which was raised in 1999.

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