COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri officials have announced they will not remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from Francis Quadrangle after students petitioned over the fact that he owned slaves.
The decision comes after UM System President and interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi met with university curators and administrators on Friday, June 12, according to a statement. Leaders of the Legion of Black Collegians as well as Roman Leapheart, a student who circulated a petition, were also in attendance.
“The conversation was an example of the power of civil discourse and included discussion of complex issues and different perspectives,” Choi said. “We learn from history. We contextualize historical figures with complex legacies. We don’t remove history.”
The petition had more than 3,300 signatures by 11:35 a.m. on June 12, with several more signing every minute shortly after the decision was released.
“Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, owned more than 600 African-American slaves throughout his adult life,” the petition states. “Mizzou has no room for a racist slave owner on our campus, in the Quad, where thousands of black students pass by everyday.”
Choi recommended that university faculty and students explore how MU can contextualize this historical figure.