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Judge: UT Confederate Statue Can Be Removed

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Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson/Texas Tribune
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The statue of Jefferson Davis, once president of the Confederate States, stands just south of the Main Building on UT's campus on June 22, 2015.

The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis on the University of Texas at Austin campus will soon be removed from its prominent place on campus. 

Removal plans were cleared Thursday by a state district judge, who rejected a request from the Sons of Confederate Veterans to block UT-Austin’s plan to remove the bronze sculpture.

The Confederate group had argued that the statue has significant artistic and cultural value and could be damaged if removed. Lawyers for UT-Austin disputed that, but also said that the Sons Confederate Veterans didn’t have standing to sue.

Judge Karin Crump of Travis County agreed with UT-Austin, saying that the Confederate group wouldn’t be harmed in any way by the removal of the eight-decade-old statues. She also said that removing the statues didn't seem to violate the will of the man who donated it, George Washington Littlefield. 

UT-Austin President Greg Fenves announced plans this month to remove the statue from UT-Austin’s south mall to an exhibit in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Acting on advice from a campus committee, he arranged to have it taken down on Aug. 15 before the lawsuit halted the action.

The statue has been controversial on campus for years. It has been vandalized multiple times, and calls for its removal intensified after nine people were killed in a racially motivated church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

Some opponents of moving the statue have argued that taking it down would be an attempt to ignore the state's history.  

A statue of former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson will also be removed. No one has complained about that statue, but it's on the other side of the mall from the Davis statue, so university leaders say they want to move it for symmetrical reasons. 

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