Lawrence Sullivan Ross supported the Confederacy as a general, has ties to white supremacy, and committed many gratuitous acts of violence against people of color over the course of his life.
In the same way the Confederate flag symbolizes a history of hate towards marginalized ethnic and racial groups, the Sullivan Ross statue symbolizes a man who fought for racial inequality and systemic oppression. This statue is not only a reminder of that history, but also a glorification, whether it’s by the pennies left at its feet or the stop made for it on every campus tour. Students from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds are forced to walk past this statue representing a man who would have sooner killed them than celebrated them. Sullivan Ross not only slaughtered a group of fleeing and unarmed indigenous women and children, but also ordered and took part in a massacre of black Union soldiers, who were recently freed former slaves with little to no military training and posed no threat to Ross. In his own words, each man was focused on “nothing but making his escape… but a few of them got away. The road all the way to Yazoo City was literally strewed with their bodies.”
Those who would rather stick up for the statue of a long-gone man rather than the emotional and mental well being of current, former, and future Aggies claim that the Ross statue is an important part of our history at the university and in the nation. If this is true, however, we should be honest about how our history is handled. Either this statue should be moved to a museum, where history can be remembered accurately, or should be given a visual marker to explain this history, along with a more honest and transparent account of Ross’ complex past during tours and campus discussions.
President Young and and Chancellor Sharp have said that historical items at A&M and at universities across the A&M System will be reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the university and the System's values. A highly visible and glorified statue of an overly violent Confederate general does not fit our school’s values of excellence and respect, or at least it shouldn’t if the administration truly wants everyone to feel welcome in our Aggie family.
If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about community and student-led activism and our demands for meaningful institutional change, feel free to find TAMU Anti-Racism on social media, or check out our latest petition on Change.org, “Demand Diversity and Inclusion Action at Texas A&M University.” Many of us support these demands because we’ve experienced or have seen people experience exclusion and hate from fellow Aggies based on our identities, and we would love to instead be a part of a community that gives all Aggies a chance to succeed and feel supported.