Ole Miss to recognize diverse history at historical sites

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OXFORD, Miss. — The University of Mississippi will soon be adding plagues in front of historical sites on campus in an effort to better recognize the diverse history of the institution.

The announcement was made Thursday, saying the plagues will be placed in front of Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, the Croft building, the Lyceum and the Hilgard Cut.

The university stressed it is not erasing history, but simply flushing out the narrative by adding context.

“Contextualization is an important extension of a university’s responsibility to educate and provides an opportunity to learn from history,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said in a prepared statement. “As an educational institution, it is imperative we foster a learning environment and fulfill our mission by pursuing knowledge and understanding.”

The Oxford Eagle learned the university is also planning on starting the process to officially rename Vardaman Hall, which was given the green light for renovations back in May 2016.

However, that process will only begin after fundraising and renovations efforts are complete.

The move also needs IHL approval.

Vardaman, a white supremacist, was a Mississippi governor and U.S. senator in the early 20th century.

Two other historic sites were also put forth for contextualization.

The first would be the placement of a stained-glass window in Ventress Hall that would be dedicated to the University Greys, a company of college students who suffered 100 percent causalities.

The second would be at the Confederate Cemetery where an individual gravestone would be placed for every known person buried on the site along with one honoring the men from Lafayette County who served in the U.S. Colored Troops.

The changes are part of an effort started in 2014 to provide historical context on the Oxford campus, which was rocked by violence after court-ordered integration in 1962.

The administration has already added a plaque to provide information about slavery and the Civil War to a Confederate soldier statue on campus.

University leaders said they’re trying to make a diverse student body feel more welcome.

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