Bills to Keep Ole Miss from Moving Monument Are ‘Likely Dead’ Despite Late Push by Alumni, Pro-Confederate Groups
Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today, March 2, 2020
Ahead of a March 3 deadline to pass general bills through committee at the state Capitol, several alumni of the University of Mississippi and Confederate heritage groups are asking legislative leadership to support bills that would keep the university from moving its Confederate monument.
University leaders, including Chancellor Glenn Boyce, Athletics Director Keith Carter and the chief fundraising officials on campus, support a student-formed plan to move the university’s 30-foot monument from the center of campus to an on-campus graveyard where Confederate soldiers are buried.
After the 12-member board of trustees at the Institutions of Higher Learning tabled a January vote that could have approved or killed plans to relocate the monument, several lawmakers filed bills this session that would prohibit public entities from moving war memorial monuments.
Sources close to several college board members told Mississippi Today last month that board members who oppose the relocation hope the Legislature addresses the issue during the 2020 session.
But legislative leaders told Mississippi Today on Monday morning that the monument bills would likely not be taken up before tomorrow’s deadline, a move that would effectively kill them.
Johnny Morgan, a former state senator and the brother of IHL board member Chip Morgan, sent an email to dozens of friends and associates on Friday asking them to call legislative leaders and ask that they push the monument bills through committee.
Several Confederate heritage groups — including the Our State Flag Foundation and Make Ole Miss Great Again Inc. — have posted language identical to Morgan’s email on social media and asked supporters to call legislative leaders.
In February and March 2019, the university’s student senate, faculty senate, graduate student council, staff council and top administrative officials passed a measure that called for the monument’s relocation to an on-campus graveyard where Confederate soldiers are buried. The cemetery is located in a corner of campus not visible from main thoroughfares.
But the relocation hit a snag in early January when the board of trustees at the Institutions for Higher Learning, which gets the final say on the proposal, removed the proposal from its agenda.
IHL board member Tommy Duff, who recently gave the university $26 million for its new STEM building, removed the item from the agenda citing a desire to “receive a full report” from the university on efforts to contextualize its many symbols that honor the Confederacy or problematic leaders of Mississippi’s past.