“While every historical figure leaves a mixed legacy, I believe Jefferson Davis is in a separate category, and that it is not in the university’s best interest to continue commemorating him on our Main Mall,” Fenves wrote in a letter to the UT community posted online.
The Davis statue at UT Austin was vandalized in recent weeks with the words “Black Lives Matter” and “Bump the Chumps.” It is one of a number of works of public art around the country depicting Confederate and Southern figures to come under attack in recent weeks after the shooting deaths of nine people in June at a predominantly black church in South Carolina.
The four other statues in question at the UT Austin campus depict Lee, James Stephen Hogg, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan.
Fenves said that the latter three “had deep ties to Texas. Robert E. Lee’s complicated legacy to Texas and the nation should not be reduced to his role in the Civil War.”
Fenves said that his decision is “both respectful of the heritage that is important to many and serves as a poignant display of our nation’s and university’s history.” The statues of Johnston and Lee were also vandalized in recent weeks, after the killings in South Carolina.