When George H.W. Bush passed away on November 30, 2018, both Democrats and Republicans mourned the loss of the respected former president.
But just two months later, current and former students of Hampton University, along with Democratic Congressman William Lacy Clay (MO) want a statue honoring the 41st president removed from the private historically black university’s campus:
Rep. William Lacy Clay, backed by his former congressman father, says he will ask the Congressional Black Caucus to come out against historically black Hampton University honoring the late President George H. W. Bush with a sculpture on campus.
The Virginia university on Sunday unveiled its new Legacy Park that honored Bush, along with civil rights figures Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. former President Barack Obama, and others. It noted that Bush gave the commencement address in 1991 at the university, and that in the 1940s Bush founded a United Negro College Fund chapter at Yale while he was a student there.
Rep. Clay told the St.Louis Post-Dispatch that Bush’s legacy “is not one that you can hold up as someone who believed in equal justice for all” because he appointed then-Judge Clarence Thomas to replace Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Hampton University alumni protest installation of George H. W. Bush statue https://t.co/9lUvDwdYLo
— Inside Higher Ed (@insidehighered) February 4, 2019
NewsOne reports former students have launched an online petition urging university leaders to remove the statue:
“It is a complete misalignment to celebrate him on our soil. We are doing ourselves a disservice as a school, and are failing to represent the interests of the larger black community,” the petition said. “The presence of this statue sends a message to the rest of the world that Hampton University, a historically black university, is willing to forget recent history, distance ourselves from the rest of black America, and ultimately compromise our morals.”
But the inclusion of Bush sparked widespread disapproval. The petition said including Bush is like placing a statue of Vice President Mike Pence alongside a statue of Colin Kaepernick thee decades from now.
Hampton University explained its decision to include Bush in an announcement posted to its website on January 27th. An excerpt:
President Bush demonstrated a long-standing support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities over his career. He delivered the 1991 Commencement address at Hampton University. Over the next three years after President Bush spoke here, Hampton University received $40 million in federal support for faculty research, scholarships for students, and programs to enhance the university. Under the Title III Program alone, salary supplements, scholarship support and the acquisition of instructional and research equipment were received. President Bush founded the United Negro College Fund chapter at Yale University during his college days.
You can watch that 1991 commencement address here.
Some current students, however, do not agree with the university’s rationale:
“I just feel like a lot of his policies did harm to black people,” said [student Kyra] Robinson. “I just feel like as an HBCU we should definitely be uplifting more black figures than putting like William Taft and George H.W. Bush on our campus.”
“Because some of those statues are definitely deserving but when you have someone like George H.W. Bush, who is honorable do not get me wrong he is honorable, but as far as the other people up there and what they mean to the campus I think that students and alumni deserve an explanation,” said [Hampton University Junior Randall] Williams.
Dr. William Harvey, who has been president of Hampton University for over 40 years, penned a moving tribute to Bush shortly after his death. In the piece, he talked about the president’s longstanding commitment to HBCUs.
“Look, anyone who is a friend of HBCUs is a friend of mine and should be considered a friend of all African Americans,” Harvey said that same month, according to the Philadelphia Tribune.
If the former and students don’t get their way, will militant social justice warriors intervene and violently force the issue like they do here in North Carolina? Let’s hope civility and thoughtful discussion prevail over mob rule.
“41” wouldn’t have it any other way.
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