Shortly after the state college board voted on Thursday morning authorizing the University of Mississippi to relocate its Confederate monument, students, professors and community members grew angry and disappointed as details of the university’s plans circulated.
Included on the last page of the 156-page proposal that Chancellor Glenn Boyce sent to IHL were two renderings of the renovated Confederate cemetery with the relocated monument. These images fueled the outrage among community members who support relocation.
The university’s proposal listed the Associated Student Body (ASB), the Ole Miss Alumni Association, the UM Foundation, Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and all three university Greek councils among those who had provided “written endorsement” for the plan. However, ASB leadership released a statement saying they were never made aware of these plans “to beautify the Confederate cemetery,” and if they were, they would not have approved.
“Student advocacy has solely centered around moving the Confederate statue into the Confederate cemetery,” the statement said. “We stand by our student body and look forward to working with the university to address these issues. Relocation, not Glorification.”
In addition to moving the monument from the Circle to the Confederate cemetery, the university will lay a new brick path to the monument, enhance it with lighting, and install security cameras around the cemetery to be monitored by the University Police Department. The plans also include 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” and “new headstones will be added to offer remembrance for the souls buried on the grounds,” according to the proposal.
The project will cost approximately $1.15 million and will be funded privately.
Several of the students who authored the original resolution to relocate the monument, which the ASB Senate passed unanimously in March 2019, do not approve of the university’s plans either. Senior international studies major Katie Dames, senior Arabic major Charlotte Armistead, and alumni Arielle Hudson, Jarvis Benson, John Chappell and Leah Davis released a joint statement saying the university’s proposal glorifies the Confederacy.
“As the authors of the initial resolution, we strongly oppose any measures that would uplift white supremacist narratives or glorify the Confederacy,” the statement read. “The unanimously passed resolution called for relocating the monument to a less prominent place on campus. We did not co-sign onto a project beautifying the Lost Cause.”
Carl Tart, the university’s first homecoming king, was among the alumni who took to social media to express their disdain.
In a thread on Twitter that included the university’s renderings of the updated cemetery, Tart said he could no longer help the university recruit African American students if “this shrine commemorating the Confederacy is erected.”
“I am not your token black person, and I will not stand for the continued disrespect to black and brown students on that campus, from statues, to leadership, to student organizations. Take that 168 page, $1M plan, and BURN IT,” one of Tart’s tweets read.
On Friday, a university spokesman told Mississippi Today that the university’s plans have evolved since the renderings were completed, but Boyce has not yet publicly addressed these concerns.