Murray State’s English & Philosophy Dept. Urges County Officials To Remove Confederate Statue
Murray State University’s Department of English and Philosophy issued an editorial letter urging county officials to take down a Confederate statue in Murray’s court square.
Professor Timothy Johns coordinated the letter. He said he asked the 41 instructors in the department for their thoughts on penning the letter and received no pushback.
The letter addressed to Calloway County Judge/Executive Kenny Imes asks officials to “take immediate action” to remove the statue of commander of the Confederate States Army Robert E. Lee. Johns says the statue is disrespectful to the military and the troops.
“I don’t mean to speak for other people about it...In the last week the Navy and the Marines have both banned all symbols of the Confederacy so now official Murray policies are disrespecting the military,” Johns said.
Johns said the statue should have come down right after the Marines issued the ban. He said confederate monuments are also a threat to public safety and attract domestic terrorists, as seen in Charlottesville.
Johns said he’s had black students who may feel like “second class citizens” after seeing the statue on the square. He said the statue is also offensive to black soldiers who are willing to die for their country.
“Those who say this is about history and heritage...it’s about the history and heritage of lynching. And of Jim Crow Laws in the United States. So they can say all this about history and heritage but it’s nothing to do about the good heritage of America that crushed the kinds of values that they support.”
Johns said he doesn’t think the statue represents Murray or Calloway County. He said confederate statues are symbols of racism and “if Murray continues to keep up the statue it’s going to give all kinds of difficulties to the university, to businesses in Murray and to civic organizations.”
“Put it this way: Robert E. Lee spent very little time in Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. We should smash that statue and replace it with Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.,” he said.
Johns said the statue is “going to go down eventually” but the longer that it’s up “the more we are going to embarrass and shame” those who fight to keep it up.
Murray State assistant football coach Sherman Neal II also wrote Imes a letter asking for the removal of the statue. Neal has since asked for a public forum on the removal of the statue to be included in the county’s upcoming fiscal court meeting on June 17.