University installs contextualization plaques ahead of unveiling ceremony

Posted on Feb 28 2018 - 8:00am by Blake Alsup

One of the six contextualization plaques sits in front of Barnard Observatory. The plaques will be unveiled Friday. Photo by Christian Johnson

Six plaques created to add context to monuments and buildings on campus were installed yesterday in advance of a planned unveiling event this weekend.

The markers were delivered and installed by Columbus Marble Works and could be seen around campus Tuesday with the university logo covering the inscriptions until Friday.

The plaques were made to add context to Confederate monuments on campus and certain buildings built by slaves or named after men with ties to slavery.

Plaques have been placed at Longstreet Hall, George Hall, Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, Ventress Hall for the University Greys memorial window along with one to recognize the enslaved laborers who were used to construct some of the first buildings on campus, including the Lyceum.

The installation comes almost two years after Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter wrote a letter to the Ole Miss community in March 2016 to present his plan to form the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context (CACHC).

Vitter saw a need for the committee after a new contextualization plaque installed on the front of the Confederate statue at the Lyceum Circle brought complaints from some in the community. The committee received suggestions to change the wording of the plaque and include more community input before the plaque language was drafted.

From start to finish, the new plaques and inscriptions were in planning and development for almost two years.

This event was announced in December and is a culmination of the work completed by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context,” said Ryan Whittington, UM marketing and brand strategy director.

The Contextualization Plaque Unveiling Event will begin with a ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The keynote address will be given by John R. Neff, associate professor of history and director of the Center for Civil War Research.

Chancellor Vitter; Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement; and Alice Clark, interim vice chancellor for university relations, will also make remarks, according to Whittington.

He said student ambassadors will read each of the plaques during the ceremony.

Following the event, shuttles will take attendees from the Ford Center to the new plaque sites, where student representatives and a member of the CACHC will be available to speak with attendees.