Posted on July 19, 2018

This University Is Removing a Statue of Its Slave-Owning Founder

Maya Eliahou and Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, July 2018


A prominent statue of one of the school’s slave-owning founders will be relocated from the school’s front gates, FSU President John Thrasher announced Tuesday.

In addition to the statue’s relocation, Thrasher approved seeking the removal of a pro-segregation Florida Supreme Court justice’s name from the campus’ law school building. {snip}


Relocating the statue

Thrasher’s decisions were informed by recommendations from an advisory panel of students, faculty and others that he convened to review campus building names as well as other memorials.

Following years of protests by students, the panel recommended that the statue of Francis Eppes VII, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, founder of FSU and former mayor of Tallahassee, be removed from its location at the school’s entrance.

Due to his slave-holding past and his previously overstated role in founding FSU, Thrasher decided to accept the panel’s recommendation to relocate the statue, commissioned in 2002.


Thrasher said that wherever it is moved, the statue will be accompanied by a plaque that will mention Eppes’ history of slave ownership as well as celebrate his contributions to FSU.

Although Eppes’ statue will be moved, Thrasher did not accept the panel’s recommendation to remove his name from the school’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice building. Thrasher said his decision was based on Eppes’ “significant contributions” to FSU, and wrote that Eppes Hall will soon include a marker with biographical information about Eppes that includes his slave ownership.

Thrasher also agreed to accept the panel’s recommendation to seek legislative action to legally remove the name of B.K. Roberts, a founder of the university’s law school and former Florida Supreme Court justice, from the FSU College of Law Building

While a member of the Florida Supreme Court in the 1950s, Roberts wrote pro-segregation opinions, including a decision that refused to obey a US Supreme Court ruling and denied a black man enrollment in the University of Florida’s College of Law. {snip}


Roberts should be celebrated in an “appropriate space and manner” elsewhere within the law school, Thrasher added.

The campus community speaks out


The College Republicans of FSU issued a statement that said by choosing to remove Eppes’ statue, Thrasher is deciding to “cave to the whims of the loud minority.”

“Removing his statue does not erase his shortcomings,” the statement said. “Rather, it simply ignores his generosity to our University and to our state.”

Other student groups believe Thrasher didn’t go far enough. {snip}