OXFORD, Miss. — After years of discussion and demands for change at Ole Miss, a controversial statue of a Confederate soldier is coming down.
The state Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees approved the university’s plan for the relocation Thursday. The question now is when the move will take place.
“Hopefully this will be one of my last runs looking at this statue, so I’m excited about that,” said Ole Miss senior Ukwuoma Ukairo, who stopped her morning run long enough to take a picture of the Confederate statue that’s stood on Lyceum Circle since 1906.
She said the vote to approve a plan to relocate the statue is an important step.
“We are ready to separate ourselves from this relic, but also interested to see when it will actually happen. Tey’ve said a lot of things in the past,” Ukairo said.
Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce, recognizing the efforts of students, faculty, staff and alumni tweeted, “Now is the time for change as we strive to make a better present and future for everyone on our campus. … we are now prepared to complete this work and will do so as quickly as possible.”
While no timeline was given on when the statue would be moved, just a few hours after the vote, crews from the university were marking sewer and gas lines.
The university’s Confederate monument relocation project details how the statue will be dismantled and charts the proposed cross-campus route to move the statue to the entrance of a Confederate cemetery near Tad Smith Coliseum.
In addition, the university said they are finalizing plans to make improvements to the cemetery on campus. A marker to commemorate the African American soldiers from Lafayette County who fought in the Civil War will be added along with headstones for those who were laid to rest there will be added.
According to Visit Oxford, the cemetery is the resting place of Confederate soldiers who died after Shiloh in 1862. The individual markers were removed years ago in order for the groundskeeper to mow and they forgot where they belonged.
But one Ole Miss alum, who said “you can’t erase history,” questioned whether moving the statue will really make a difference.
“It’s not going to take a change, a removal of statues, it’s not going to take a changing of names of city streets,” said Wanda Pearson of Oxford. “It’s going to take a change of heart in order to fix this country.”
The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $900,000 to $1.2 million. It will be covered by private funds.