Phi-Led Movement to Remove Confederate Statue Succeeds at Ole Miss
Friday, June 19, 2020
Today, I call the University of Mississippi Fraternity and Sorority Life executive board members and my fellow chapter presidents to action.
For the past 1.14 years, a confederate monument has stood at 29 feet tall In University Circle - the center of the University of Mississippi's campus.
On October 1st, 1962, James Meredith became the first African-American to attend class at the University of Mississippi. The riots against a person of color sitting in the same classroom as white men and women were so severe that it took the deployment of 31,000 members of the national guard to ensure that James Meredith could make it into a classroom. James Meredith battled many forms of racism while trying to receive the same quality of education as a white man: he was originally denied acceptance into the university solely because of the color of his skin, he faced performative racism from rioters attempting to stop him from entering a classroom, and he had to walk past a statue representing everything he was fighting against every day for the rest of his tenure at Ole Miss. Today, the Black students of the University of Mississippi are still forced to walk past this statue - a statue glorifying a soldier that fought a war to keep people of color in slavery. I will never know what it feels like to be Black in a world plagued with racism, but I do know that this isn't a burden that a Black student should have to face on a daily basis to receive the quality education that the University of Mississippi provides.
You may argue that this statue is a piece of history that can't be changed - I agree with you. However, history belongs in a museum. Something that stands in the center of our campus should reflect the current values and beliefs of the university.
Last year, the University of Mississippi's Associated Student Body voted to have the confederate monument moved out of University Circle. The chapters of the IFC chose not to mobilize to enact change. The statue still stands. I suspect that this silence can be attributed to fear of backlash from members and alumni. We can no longer allow fear of backlash to keep us from standing against something that we know is wrong.
To the members of the NPHC, CPH, and IFC executive boards and my fellow chapter presidents, this statement will be sent to Chancellor Glenn Boyce and all 12 members of the IHL board this Monday, June 8th at 9 AM CST with all signatures it has received at that point in time. If you have not signed by that time, the space for your signature will be left unsigned. Going forward with signing this may cause you to have tough conversations with your members that stand against this movement, these conversations are necessary. We cannot let our racist past in fraternity and sorority culture at the University of Mississippi stand in the way of a better future.
To any of our own alumni that may be considering holding back donations after reading this, your money is no good here.
To my Black brothers and sisters at the University of Mississippi and around the world, I am with you. Now and forever.
President, Delta Psi Fraternity
(Read more about the relocation in this Clarion Ledger article.)