Former Murray State University basketball star Ja Morant is calling for the removal of a Confederate monument on Calloway County courthouse grounds.
The monument next to the courthouse features a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, installed in 1917 with funds from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Morant, who was selected second overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, addressed a letter to county Judge-Executive Kenny Imes, dated June 11.
“Murray felt like a second home from the minute I stepped on campus and became a part of the Murray State community. It is full of people, families and students from all different backgrounds,” Morant said in the letter. “As a young Black man, I cannot stress enough how disturbing and oppressive it is to know the city still honors a Confederate war general defending white supremacy and hatred.”
Morant was a member of the Racers men’s basketball team from 2017 to 2019. Murray State retired Morant’s jersey number earlier this year. During his sophomore 2018-2019 season, Morant collected multiple accomplishments and honors:
Morant was named Ohio Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
Morant earned first-team All-American honors from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association
Morant became the first NCAA men’s basketball player to average at least 20 points and 10 assists in a single season
Morant led the Racers men’s basketball team to an upset victory over Marquette University in the 2019 NCAA Tournament
“Given recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s necessary to act now. We can’t change the culture of racism unless we change the celebration of racism,” Morant said. “Please help us take a stand and remove this symbol of hatred and oppression.”
This follows another open letter sent by the Murray State Department of English and Philosophy calling for the removal of the statue. Protesters in Murray also marched through the city on June 2 calling for the removal of the monument. Some of those protesters were subsequently assaulted with pepper spray by a Paducah man.
Recent calls for the removal of the monument began when Sherman Neal, a Murray State football coach and former U.S. Marines veteran, requested the statue be removed in an open letter published on June 1.