Mitchell Gunter, Campus Reform, March 26, 2018
A statue of Thomas Jefferson has raised the ire of student activists at Hofstra University, who are demanding that administrators remove his visage from campus.
JaLoni Amor, a Hofstra student and Black Lives Matter activist, released a petition calling for the statue’s removal on March 17, proclaiming that Jefferson has been embraced as an “icon” by “white supremacist and neo-nazi organizations” like the Ku Klux Klan.
“The Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center is one of the central points for on-campus life and student activities,” the petition reads. “It is unfortunate then that a bronze sculpture of a 71-year-old Thomas Jefferson, gifted to the university by Hofstra Trustee David Mack, is right in front of the Student Center.”
“Jefferson has been embraced as an icon by white supremacist and neo-nazi organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan,” the petition continues, calling attention to Jefferson’s past as a slave owner who committed rape.
Shortly after, Amor created a Facebook event for an upcoming protest titled, “Jefferson Has Gotta Go!” slated for March 30. More than ten organizations are listed on the event’s flyer, including the Democrats of Hofstra University, Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition, The Gender Identity Federation, and Young Democratic Socialists of Hofstra.
“I drafted this petition to call on Hofstra University to F I N A L L Y remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson from in front of the Student Center,” Amor wrote, asserting that “Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves in his life time” and “preyed upon many of these slaves.”
Amor also addressed her fellow protesters, writing, “WHITE ALLIES — Please understand that this is a protest against white supremacy and that you as white people — even though you’re allies — benefit from white supremacy!” and “PROTEST. Do not just come and take selfies for your Instagram feed or SO HELP ME GOD.”
“Not to bring problems, but I’d like to point out that as you are making the protest about your right to freedom of speech, don’t forget that people like Jefferson gave you that right,” Hofstra student Conor Dawson wrote in response to Amor’s post.
“Jefferson was one of the earliest anti-slavery advocates in the 18/19th century. He even proposed abolition and banning it outright in congress. Just do a little bit of basic reading on the subject and youll [sic] see that he stood for a LOT more than just that,” Alex McHale added.