A 121-year-old Confederate monument in front of the University of Louisville campus was removed over last weekend, culminating years of debate whether the landmark was historically significant or a reminder of slavery and racial division.
The monument includes two statutes of Confederate soldiers on each side of a 70-foot tower holding the likeness of a third soldier It includes the Confederate seal and an inscription that reads: “To Our Confederate Dead” and “Tribute to the Rank and File of the Armies of the South.”
It is being relocated to Brandenburg, Ky., a small community about 45 miles away, where townsfolk say they want to use the monument as part of Civil War re-enactment events, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
The removal of what many see as a vestige of slavery came after the City of Louisville prevailed in a legal actions brought by groups including the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The move began Saturday without incident and will be finished this week, officials say, after a last-minute federal lawsuit was filed by a Louisville man who contended the city didn’t own the monument. His attempt to secure an injunction failed.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer struck the deal to re-locate the monument under a $400,000 project jointly funded by the University of Louisville and the city.
“I'm personally glad to see it go,” Metro Council member David James, whose district includes the monument, told the newspaper.
“To me, it's a vestige of the Civil War, of slavery, of all things that represent oppression to people of color,” said James, who is African-American.
The monument was given to Louisville in 1895 to commemorate Kentuckians who died in the Civil War. But by the end of World War I, discussions began about moving the monument – discussions that have continued for the past century.
When the cornerstone was laid for the monument in 1895, a large crowd “wearing colors of the Confederacy” gathered for what supporters, including a women’s support group, called an “imposing ornament” for Confederate dead at a high-profile site, the newspaper reported.
A newspaper report at the time said a copper time capsule, placed inside the cornerstone, reportedly included poems, photographs and a cigar butt discarded by Confederate general Robert E. Lee.