State to allow Ole Miss to move Confederate statue from prominent spot

Published 10:13 am Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Confederate statue that stood in the shadow of the University of Mississippi Lyceum for the past 114 years will soon be moved.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved the University’s relocation plan to move the statue to the Confederate cemetery behind C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum. The request was approved as part of the consent agenda during the Board’s monthly meeting in Jackson on Thursday.

In March 2019, the University announced its intention to relocate the statue, which has become controversial and created divisiveness since its construction in 1906. When the 2019-20 school year began, the University provided an update, where they unveiled their relocation plan for the statue.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) approved the plan last December, paving the way for the IHL Board’s approval to be the last puzzle piece needed to move the statue. In January, the Board pulled the item off the agenda when Trustee Thomas Duff made a motion to table the issue until the University could submit a full report on campus contextualization of related symbols.

The privately funded plan will cost over $1.1 million and will cover disassembling, transporting and reassembling the statue in its new location. Once placed in its new location in the cemetery, plans include a brick path surrounded by trees with lighting, as well as a new marker to recognize the men from Lafayette County who served in the Union Army as part of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.

New headstones will be placed in the cemetery to offer remembrance for those buried on the grounds, along with a stone path to the existing marker in the cemetery.

Reviewing the proposed cemetery improvements was something the Board felt was “prudent” in their due diligence in assessing the appropriateness of the relocation site, as required by law, according to a release sent out by the IHL following Thursday’s vote.

“The Board reviewed the detailed plans for the new site, considered events on college campuses across the South involving Confederate monuments, and listened to the University’s various constituency groups,” said IHL Board president Ford Dye. “The Board subsequently determined relocating the Confederate statue to be most appropriate for Ole Miss moving forward.”