Statues of three Confederate figures which had stood on the Main Mall at the University of Texas Austin campus for more than ninety years, were being dismantled early today and will be moved to a campus history museum, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
A fourth statue which was part of the statue complex was also removed.
The statues depicting Robert E. Lee, Texas Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, as well as Confederate Postmaster General and later U.S. Senator John Reagan survived a dispute two years ago in which a statue of Jefferson Davis was removed from the mall, but the others were allowed to remain.
In a statement released at 11PM Sunday night 'to the University Community,' University President Greg Fenves said he decided to 'revisit' the 2015 report recommending the retention of the statues 'after the revelatory events in Charlottesville.'
"After considering the original task force report and with the events of the past week and my discussions with the campus community in mind, I have decided to relocate the remaining four statues," Fenves said.
In addition to the statues of Lee, Johnston, and Reagan, which will be relocated in the Briscoe Center for American History, alongside the Davis statue, Fenves says a statue of late nineteenth century Gov. James Hogg is also being removed, but will be relocated elsewhere on campus. Hogg was born in 1851 and had nothing to do with the Confederacy. Fenves says his statue will be 'considered for reinstallation at another campus site.'
"The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize. Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry," Fenves said.
The moves comes less than a week after Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott said removing Confederate statues and monuments 'won't erase our nation's past, and doesn't advance our nation's future.'
Fenves said taking the action, just before students return to campus for the fall semester, allows him to welcome the students 'to an open, positive and inclusive learning environment for all.'
"The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres."
The statues were commissioned by Confederate veteran and University of Texas benefactor George Littlefield in 1915 so, in his words, 'future generations would remember these grand patriots who gave up their lives for the cause of liberty and self-government.' The statues were dedicated in the early 1920s.