In the wake of mass protests across the U.S. in response to the death of George Floyd, Texas colleges are facing some opposition to their school symbols. Most recently, Texas A&M University’s statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross (or “Sully,” as it has come to be known) was the target of red graffiti and a rainbow wig.
Texas A&M University’s Academic Plaza has been home to the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross for decades. A former governor of the Lone Star State and president of the university, Ross was credited with saving the school in its fledgling years. His statue has become the symbol of a double-edged sword of sorts. For years, Texas high school students have toured campus, learning about “Sully” and his contributions to higher learning. Texas A&M students have long placed pennies at the foot of the statue wishing for good luck during their exams. However, prior to his term at the university, Ross was a Confederate general. Now due to protests, the statue of Lawrence Ross has been covered by a tarp.
Photo: @clarissaclicks via Twenty20
Texas A&M isn’t alone in its efforts to marry its history with its present inclusion and diversity commitments. The University of Texas at Austin and its counterparts throughout the Lone Star State have released statements reproving of discrimination. In the meantime, students at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth have launched protests to remove the statues of the founding members of the school, who served as Confederates in the Civil War. Likewise, the University of North Texas student body celebrated as officials of Denton County voted to have the statue of a Confederate removed from outside their county courthouse. This isn’t a new concept that has only come to light with the current social outcry. In 2015, due to protest, UT Austin removed a statue of the former President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis. In 2017, they followed through with the removal of the statues of Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, and John Reagan, all Confederate figures. Not only that, but the successful African-American faculty and student recruitment and retention percentages remain low.