U of L Confederate monument moved
to Brandenburg after lengthy debate
A controversial 121-year-old Confederate monument at the University of Louisville has been moved to Brandenburg after a long debate about its removal.
The decision came seven months after a heated discussion between Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and former U of L President James Ramsey.
“This new location provides an opportunity to remember and respect our history in a more proper context,” Fischer said. “And it’s close enough that Louisvillians can visit.”
Fischer made the decision on moving the city-owned monument after reviewing a list of recommendations from the city’s arts commission. Some two dozen representatives, some as far away as Virginia, said they would welcome the monument. The mayor said many factors influenced his decision, including Brandenburg’s desire to use the statue as part of its biennial Civil War re-enactment, as well as the city’s location along the Ohio River, just 44 miles from Louisville.
Several Brandenburg officials, including Mayor Ronnie Joyner, spoke before the arts commission to beseech the panel to give them the monument. The 70-foot-tall monument features a statue of a soldier on top.
The monument was given to Louisville by the Kentucky Women’s Confederate Monument Association in 1895 to commemorate the Kentuckians who fought and died for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Historians said Basil Duke, former Confederate officer associated with Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan, gave the keynote speech when the monument was erected.
Preservationists said Fischer’s decision was an attempt to erase history, and others called it a bow to “political correctness.” But some said the monument and other Confederate symbols are only meant to honor those who fought to keep African Americans enslaved.
“The Civil War was not a war of ‘Northern aggression’ fought by sympathetic, victimized ‘Gone with the Wind’ characters,” said U of L Professor Ricky L. Jones, chairman of the Pan-African Studies Department. “It was a war about slavery plain and simple. It was a conflict the South started to maintain its right to continue playing pharaoh and endlessly force its black brutes to make bricks out of straw.”
Kentucky was a slave state but never seceded from the Union, and soldiers from the state fought for both sides. Louisville had 80,000 black and white Union soldiers stationed in the city, along with free black residents and a link on the Underground Railroad.
Acting U of L President Neville Pinto said he was pleased that two cities along the Ohio River were able to work together to ensure a proper and fitting location for the monument.
“While we do not wish to erase history, the University of Louisville is looking to a future that embraces and promotes diversity and inclusion for all our faculty, students and staff,” he said.
The mayor’s office said a time capsule believed to be embedded in the structure will also be retrieved and loaned to the Filson Historical Society for an exhibit.