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.

(5) comments


I'd love for professor Alvard to share his sources. I remember that Chancellor Sharp quoted Edward Blackshear, head of Prairie View A&M and himself an African-American, when referring to Ross as a friend to African-Americans. The single incident of black soldiers being murdered -- which Alvard would like to insinuate was a recurring event for which Ross was directly responsible -- occurred at the squad level whereas Ross was in command of a brigade consisting of thousands of men. While the murder of POWs is reprehensible under any circumstances and especially when on the basis of race, it should be noted that some of Ross's soldiers were killed after taken prisoner at the same battle.


Here, here! I was thinking the same thing. One would think that a professor of Anthropology would cite SOME kind of source. It's a letter to the Chancellor, so I wouldn't expect APA citation, but at least enough information that would allow a reader to look for the source material and generate an informed opinion. Frankly, a poor showing for a person with advanced academic credentials, in my opinion.


References are below. It is clear that Ross had ties to white supremacy, contrary to what Sharp wrote. This would be a good opportunity for Sharp reconsider the Ross statue issue. Having the University's identify so closely tied to white supremacy is a mistake.

Carlson, P. and T. Crum (2009). "The "Battle" at Pease River and the Question of Reliable Sources in the Recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 113: 32-52

Selcer, R (2014)

Clarke, Bessie (1920) Biography of Lawrence Sullivan Ross (Sul Ross). Manuscript.

Ross, L.S. Letter to Capt. George Moorman. March 13, 1864. Published in The Miscellaneous Documents of the House of Representatives for the 2nd session of the 51st Congress, 1890-91. Washington DC Government Printing Office.

Memphis Daily Appeal, April 20, 1864

Wilburn Sprayberry

Virtually all white leaders in the South, and Texas, until recent times, and many to most in other sections of the country, can be said to have ties to white supremacy. This is true of men like Washington and Jefferson, who created and built the United States. And it's true of the men who created and built Texas (and Texas A&M), like Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Acknowledging these facts is one thing. Pulling down the statues of these men is another thing entirely. It is an attempt on the part of the radical left (virtually dominant in many branches of academia), and some permanently aggrieved groups, to reconstruct society, including Texas A&M, along the lines of Critical Race Theory, which is simply a hate-filled attack on Western civilization in general, and the people who - by and large - created it, in particular. What Sully defenders like Sharp should do is own the fact that Sully was a man of his times - a flawed, imperfect human being - who did things moderns find abhorrent, but was also a true hero of Texas, and above all of Texas A&M, and is someone to whom we all - even university professors and other delicate and angry types - owe a debt of gratitude. And someone whose statue should remain where it is.


I too hope the Chancellor shows leadership...leads the Professor to Hey 6!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.