Michael Alvard is an associate professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University.
To Chancellor Sharp,
In 2018, you wrote an article for Texas A&M’s student-run newspaper. Your letter was in response to another letter to The Battalion published on Nov. 18, 2018, and written by Margarita Zollo, then a political science senior. The subject of both letters was Lawrence Sullivan Ross and the statue.
Mr. Sharp, in the letter, you made the following statement about Ross, “…he had NO ties to white supremacy as the writer wrongly asserts.” You went on to chastise Ms. Zollo with the following statement, “We are all entitled to our opinion, but we are not entitled to our own wrongheaded facts.”
Now that two years have passed and we know more about Ross’s life, I want to ask if you are willing to revisit the statements you made in your letter. Notwithstanding the evidence you brought to bear to convince the reader that Ross was “the best friend Black Texans ever had,” it is challenging to defend the absolute rejection of Ross’s ties to white supremacy when, for example, Ross’s daughter wrote of his efforts to ethnically cleanse central Texas and “to establish the supremacy of the white man.” Ross was, of course, a Confederate general with a reputation for slaughtering surrendering Black Union soldiers. In his position as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1876, Ross was instrumental in segregating public schools in Texas.
I could go on, but given these undisputed facts, do you still believe that Ross had NO ties to white supremacy and that Ms. Zollo was wrongheaded to think so?
I ask about this now because President Michael K. Young’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will report in mid-November, and I’m sure many of its members look to you for guidance and leadership. Your response could make a real difference.