Following the violent white supremacist rally that took place last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia — which was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee — a number of Confederate monuments throughout the country have been vandalized, including another statue of Lee that is located outside of the chapel at Duke University.
On Wednesday night, the statue’s face was damaged and its nose was removed. In response to the vandalism — and to provide an opportunity for students to “learn and heal” following last weekend’s events — the university’s leadership has decided to remove the statue completely.
In a letter published on the university’s website on Saturday, President Vincent E. Price revealed that he had authorized the statue’s removal. Price said about his decision to remove the statue:
‘I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university.
‘The removal also presents an opportunity for us to learn and heal. The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future.’
Price also said about the vandalism that was the catalyst for the statue’s removal:
‘Wednesday night’s act of vandalism made clear that the turmoil and turbulence of recent months do not stop at Duke’s gates. We have a responsibility to come together as a community to determine how we can respond to this unrest in a way that demonstrates our firm commitment to justice, not discrimination; to civil protest, not violence; to authentic dialogue, not rhetoric; and to empathy, not hatred.’
The university president went on to announce that he will be creating a commission, which will be made up of faculty, students, staff, alumni, trustees, and members of the local community, to “advise on next steps and assist us in navigating the role of memory and history at Duke.”
He added about the commission’s purpose:
‘The commission will look at how we memorialize individuals on the Duke campus in buildings and sculpture and recommend principles drawn from Duke’s core values to guide us when questions arise.’
Price’s decision comes just a few days after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called for all Confederate monuments throughout the state to be removed. He wrote in a blog post published on Medium:
‘Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.’
The news about the statue’s removal was also shared on Duke University’s Twitter account.
— Duke University (@DukeU) August 19, 2017
Some have responded to the news by thanking the university for taking down the statue. Others, though, are upset about the so-called erasure of history.
Featured image via Lance King/Getty Images.