‘Dirty Black B*stard:’ Battle Over Kentucky Confederate Statue Turns Ugly
The ongoing debate (captured in video below) over whether to remove a Confederate monument from the University of Louisville campus got downright nasty this week.
University of Louisville President James Ramsey and Mayor Greg Fischer announced plans to relocate the 121-year-old statue April 29, just days after an African-American professor penned an op-ed calling for the relic’s removal.
“For 20 years, I have walked by that towering granite and bronze eyesore glorifying the nadir of America’s past. For 20 years, I have listened to cries for its removal,” Ricky Jones, Louisville professor and chair of Pan-African Studies, wrote for the Courier-Journal. “For 20 years, we have been plagued by confusion, compromises, excuses and half measures. One hundred twenty-one years is too long. Twenty years is too long. Twenty more weeks is too long. We’ve waited long enough. It’s time for the statue to go.”
The memorial was conceived by the Kentucky Women’s Confederate Monument Association, who gifted it to the city in 1895.
The Kentucky chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans immediately filed for and won a restraining order to block municipal authorities from removing the memorial, arguing the city did not own the statue and might cause irreparable damage during the relocation process.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman lifted the temporary injunction during a hearing in late May saying, “The only proof the court has today of ownership of this monument is that it belongs to the city,” per the Associated Press. The judge asked the city to delay action until a written ruling is issued.
Burkman heard testimony from several members of the Sons organization, including Louisville alum Everett Corley, who testified that the statue was an important part of his college days.
“This monument could have been here for the next 200 years and no harm would have been done to anyone,” Corley said at the hearing.
Following the judge’s decision, Corley called Louisville professor Jones a “damn dirty black b*stard” in a Facebook post, WHAS reported Monday. Attorneys representing the former Republican congressional candidate have since dropped the divisive client.
The university organized a panel discussion over the controversial statue, held at a local restaurant Wednesday afternoon. The heated debate ended with an apology from Corley to Jones, the Courier-Journal reports.
Ed Springston, a local activist in favor of keeping the statue in place, also expressed regret for Corley’s racist rant.
“I want to apologize for the actions of a rogue guy who did not have any permission from anybody to make these statements,” Springston said. “What I won’t accept is anybody trying to accuse my attorney, myself or the Sons of Confederate Veterans of being racist. These are people who have stood up for everybody regardless of color.”
Martina Kunnecke, African-American president of the Neighborhood Planning & Preservation, spoke against the removal, saying the move was meant to distract Black residents from more pressing issues.
“I oppose moving anything that helps us remember how complex this issue of slavery was and how it still affects and divides us,” Kunnecke said.
Raw Story reports the meeting ended with both sides agreeing with the monument’s removal.
A change.org petition has proposed replacing the Confederate statue with one of the late three-time heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali.
“Since UofL has decided to remove the blight that is the Confederate statue on campus, what better to replace it than a statue in memory of Louisville’s greatest son, Muhammad Ali,” the petition reads. Over 2,500 people have signed the online petition.