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Public Input on the Fate of UT's Civil War Statues Continues

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Miguel Gutierrez Jr/KUT
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Paul Martin spoke at a UT-Austin forum on July 15, 2015, urging a committee to keep Confederate statues on campus.

A University of Texas task force has a decision to make: Will statues on campus that honor Confederate figures stay or go?

To help it decide, the university invited the public to have a say for the second time this month ahead of a deadline to provide input on the statues' ultimate fate.

People who want to keep the Confederate statues on the UT campus say removing them would be like "cultural genocide," adding that the community shouldn't hide controversial history.

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Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr/KUT
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People lined up on July 15, 2015 to speak for or against keeping Confederate statuary on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

Paul Martin suggested people uncomfortable with the statues could want to remove much more.

"Tear down the Alamo! While you’re busy doing that you might consider demolishing all of the Spanish missions in Texas," he said. "The Spanish brought African slavery to the New World."

But UT alumna Jennifer Steverson said confederate monuments must go, because, she said, they still represent racism.

"This connection was made crystal clear for all people in America when there was a massacre of Mother Emanuel  AME Church in Charleston where a neo-Confederate massacred nine people," she said.

English Professor Snehal Shingavi agrees. He said if the statues remain, the university should change its motto from "what starts here changes the world" to "what starts in South Carolina changes the world, apparently it doesn’t change here at UT."

"Even if the rest of the world understands that the Confederacy," Shingavi said. "The Confederate flag and its symbols are actually symbols of racism."

A committee that includes a dean, professors and former and current students will make recommendations to UT President Greg Fenves by Aug. 1 about what to do with the statues.  

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