Letter: With Confederate statues, where does it end?

Considering recent events, I’m wondering if Vincent Price, president of Duke University, will be taking any further steps to “express the deep and abiding values of our university.” He has ordered the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, which has been standing at the Duke Chapel portal for more than 80 years. On what was Lee’s right in that same portal stands a statue of Thomas Jefferson, also a slaveholder and father to children by his slave Sally Hemmings. Despite a few other accomplishments, such as authoring the Declaration of Independence and service as the third president, shouldn’t that statue be removed as well?

On what was Lee’s left in the Chapel portal stands a statue of musician, poet and proud Confederate veteran Sidney Lanier. He was no Lee, but he fought to preserve slavery and could be considered a traitor to his country. While we are at it, what about the founder of the university, James Buchanan Duke? He was the son of a slaveholder and Confederate veteran. He also made a vast fortune in the tobacco industry with the introduction of modern cigarette manufacturing and marketing. How many people has that contribution to society killed in the ensuing decades? A bronze statue of Duke stands near the entrance to the Duke Chapel, just a few yards from the remaining statues of Jefferson and Lanier. Will they be removed? Will the university name be changed?

Slavery was easily the darkest stain on the history of our country. Since the last shot in the Civil War was fired, we have struggled to secure the promise of freedom and equality for all people. If the revision of history is a way to do it, then I would suggest that President Price get busy. At Duke, there still exist some assaults on the deep and abiding values of the university.

STEVE ROBERTS, Topeka

 

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