Dear DDCE Family,
Earlier this morning, the statues of confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and John Reagan were removed from the Main Mall. The statue of former Texas governor James Stephen Hogg was removed and is to be relocated.
I want to first commend the leadership of President Gregory L. Fenves who said so eloquently upon their removal that while we do not choose our history, we do choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus.
Given the events of the past week in Charlottesville, I think there is little doubt what these monuments have come to signify. As detailed in the 2015 Statuary Task Force report, the Main Mall Statuary was not erected to honor those it depicted, but rather to memorialize the confederacy. With the removal of these statues, our university community has the opportunity to move forward, creating a more welcoming environment for all students, faculty and staff.
I serve not only as the interim vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, but also as the George Littlefield Professor of American History, an endowed professorship which I carry with great pride. As many of you are well aware, it was the same George Littlefield, a Confederate veteran, regent, and university benefactor who commissioned the main mall statuary in 1916. As an African American, I see no irony in this, but rather believe it to be proof of our progress as a university and as a nation. The statuary removal is no different. It too is representative of our progress and furthermore, is emblematic of the inclusive culture that is central to the mission of The University of Texas at Austin.
Leonard N. Moore
Interim Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement
George W. Littlefield Professor of American History