Florida State University is joining the growing list of communities and institutions giving the boot to statues heralding people who contributed to slavery or the abuse of black people.
An advisory panel of students, faculty and other interested parties voted that the statue of Francis Eppes VII is not the kind of monument they want standing at the entrance to their campus. The statue was removed Thursday night, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Eppes was a founder of FSU and former mayor of Tallahassee, where FSU is located, but also a slave owner and grandson of Thomas Jefferson.
The move by the panel comes after years of protests and pressure on campus to just get rid of the monument.
“To keep the statue located at the front gates of campus is to give Eppes a prominence that is simply not appropriate,” college President John Thrasher wrote in a statement.
Not only will Eppes’ statue be hauled away from the front entrance, but it will be replaced by a plaque in the new location that will make sure anyone thinking about admiring the statue is informed of his history of owning slaves, according to CNN.
Thrasher was not as enthusiastic about a recommendation by that same panel that Eppes’ name be removed from the school’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice building. Thrasher said he decided to let the name remain because of Eppes’ “significant contributions” to Florida State, but said Eppes Hall also will include a marker with biographical information that includes Eppes’ history of owning slaves.
FSU apparently is on a roll.
The panel also recommended that legislative action be sought to remove the name of law school founder B.K. Roberts, also a former Florida Supreme Court Justice, from the school’s College of Law building, CNN reported. Thrasher agreed to the recommendation.
Roberts wrote pro-segregation opinions when he was a member of the Florida Supreme Court in the not-so-open-minded 1950s. He also blocked a Black man’s enrollment from the FSU’s law school. Thrasher wrote in his statement that Roberts fell “on the wrong side of history and justice.”
But not everyone was thrilled with the school’s decisions.
The College Republicans of FSU issued a statement condemning Thrasher as capitulating to the demands “of the loud minority.”
“Removing his statue does not erase his shortcomings,” the statement read. “Rather, it simply ignores his generosity to our University and to our state.”
Eppes’ great, great, great granddaughter, Megan Eppes Barnes, also expressed her dismay at the removal of her ancestor’s statue.
“Under the cover of the night Florida State is erasing its own history,” she wrote in a Facebook post.