A&M to review historical artifacts, but Sul Ross statue will remain on campus

Published: Aug. 21, 2017 at 4:13 PM CDT
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Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young said on Monday that a statue of Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross will remain on the College Station campus, as other institutions across America make changes to Confederate monuments.

"We will look at other historical artifacts across Texas A&M to assess their consistency with our core values," said President Young.

Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp has asked the other universities in the Texas A&M System to review their historical artifacts as well, adding: “Anyone who knows the true history of Lawrence Sullivan Ross would never ask his statue to be removed. It will not be removed.”

“Lawrence Sullivan 'Sul' Ross is honored on our campus as a former president of the school. Without Sul Ross, neither Texas A&M University nor Prairie View A&M University would likely exist today. He saved our school and Prairie View through his consistent advocacy in the face of those who persistently wanted to close us down,” said Young.

Dedicated in 1918, "Sully" is now stands as one of the most iconic and oldest landmarks on campus, situated in the heart of campus in the Academic Plaza.

Edward L. Blackshear, himself the son of slaves and former principal and chief administrator of Prairie View, praised Sul Ross in comments made in 1897 regarding the nobility of his character and for being an early advocate for the creation of the first state-supported historically black college, fulfilling a promise for doing so in the Texas state constitution.

Historian and former Prairie View A&M University president George C. Wright stated, “It should be noted that the President of Texas A&M (then A.M.C.) was also the President of Prairie View until 1948 when the title of 'principal' was upgraded to 'president.'” Wright continued, “As such, Edward Blackshear’s comments at the time noting the vital support that Sul Ross as president provided to Prairie View were significant and a true testament to his contributions to African American students.”

Ross died in College Station on January 3, 1898.

In April 2016, a silent protest was held at the statute. It was organized by Texas A&M University Anti-Racism. Protesters draped a Confederate flag on the statue to protest a February 9 incident involving a group of Dallas-area high school students who were the target of racially-charged taunts by a group of white A&M students.

University of Texas President Greg Fenves on Sunday ordered the removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and other prominent Confederate figures from a main area of campus, saying such monuments have become "symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."

The debate over public memorials for Confederate figures roared into national conversation last week after one person was killed in a clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 2000, Texas A&M removed a painting of former university president and chancellor Gilbert Gilchrist that hung at the university because Gilchrist was pictured in front of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee.

The painting, commissioned in 1953 to mark Gilchrist's retirement as chancellor, depicts him in his office, sitting in front of a framed portrait of Lee and a Texas flag.

In January 2002, the picture was returned to the Gibb Gilchrist Building, but it was placed in a less prominent location in a first-floor conference room.