A Republican candidate for Congress has sharply criticized the University of Louisville and city leaders for their decision to move a Confederate monument.
Everett Corley, a Republican candidate for Kentucky’s third congressional district, called the move a means of political deflection and a “confiscation of history.”
At about 11 a.m. on Friday, U of L President James Ramsey and Mayor Greg Fischer announced that the statue, on Third Street at the university’s Belknap Campus, would be removed because it conflicts with the community’s celebration of diversity. The statue will be moved into storage before being placed in a yet-to-be-determined location.
“Kentucky certainly played a unique role in the Civil War, but it is the culture of inclusion we strive for each day at UofL that will define our future,” Ramsay said in a press release. “Over the years, our campus has grown to encircle this monument, which does not symbolize the values of our campus community or that of a 21st Century institution of higher education.”
Mayor Fischer said the monument represents, for many, a painful part of history, and therefore should be moved.
The statue was gifted to the city by the Kentucky Woman’s Monument Association in 1895 to commemorate the Kentuckians who fought and died for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
About two hours after the announcement, Corley took photos as workers erected fencing. He walked across Third Street, yelled at the workers and sang a stanza of “Dixie.”
“I believe that this is the equivalent of … book burning,” he told IL. “This is the confiscation of history.”
Corley said Ramsey also was using the move to deflect from his “abysmal record.”
Corley, a UofL graduate, said the monument should remain where it is because it is a part of history and merely serves to remember soldiers who died in the war.
A self-described conservative activist, Corley said he would launch a social media campaign to lay flowers at the monument. If elected to Congress, he said he would introduce legislation that would outlaw the removal of any monuments for the nation’s war dead.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, who holds the seat Corley wants to win, stated he supports moving the statue:
“I heartily welcome Mayor Fischer and President Ramsey’s decision to remove the Confederate monument from UofL’s campus. It honors a shameful episode in our nation’s history, one that represents a hateful division and fails to truly reflect our city and Commonwealth’s role in the Civil War.”
The Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission also praised the move.
“The Commission believes that the University of Louisville, an urban university, should present a welcoming presence to all students,” the commission said in a press release. “This statue … recognizes Confederate soldiers who died. Kentucky was never a part of the Confederacy, and it seems more appropriate for such a memorial to be placed in a museum or cemetery where Confederate soldiers rest.”