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Major update added – Sewanee student removes bust of founder, bishop, Confederate general

UPDATE from Sewanee Purple 😛 TAGEND

As University Archives works reported for work early Tuesday morning, they discovered that a sculpture of Leonidas Polk had been removed from duPont library by a student and is available on the Archives’ porch. Director of University Archives and Special Accumulation Mandi Johnson was pleased that a headstone to Polk would be stored in the Archives, where it can be placed and contextualized.

However, as she probed the story of the section, Johnson recognized it was created and donated in the 1950 s by white supremacist Jack Kershaw, who later protected the killer of Martin Luther King, Jr ., in field and founded a white nationalist dislike group. She said, “I want to be upfront about this story. All I can say is I’m terrified. It’s one thing to have a bust of the founder, but it’s another thing to know that the sculptor was this person.”

The Sewanee Purple reports that a bust of Leonidas Polk, “Sewanee’s fighting bishop”, was removed by an anonymous student. The student clarifies their action in a letter.

From Sewanee Purple’s report 😛 TAGEND

In the early hours of Tuesday, March 16, a copper head of Leonidas Polk, benefactor and Chancellor of the University of the South, was removed from duPont library. The next morning, the head and accompanying medal were found on the hall of the nearby University Archives building in a shopping bag along with a letter addressed to Dr. Woody Register( C’ 80 ), director of the Roberson Project for Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation.

The anonymous note read, “I have despised the presence of this prejudiced tribute since my first day at Sewanee and due to the recent events on the Domain I felt a call to action.” The writer continued , “I can no longer sit by while these tokens of grey predominance stare over my and my fellow students shoulders as we seek our education.”

In addition to the duPont sculpture, Polk has three portraits on campus, including one in Convocation Hall, one in the Sewanee Inn, and a reproduction of Sword over the Gown that is stored in the University Archives. Both Sword over the Gown and the Polk sculpture are not “life portraits, ” and be established decades after Polk’s death in 1864. Register said that, while the duPont sculpture was identified by the Roberson Project for investigate, “its not” not a priority among the list of shrines on campus. “But this action precipitated some clang research, and it’s a good thing it did, ” he said.

The Roberson Project on Slavery, Race and Reconciliation at Sewanee” is a six-year initiative probing the university’s historical entanglements with bondage and slavery’s gifts. Our Project’s name memorializes the late Professor of History, Houston Bryan Roberson , who was the first tenured African American faculty member at Sewanee and the first to meet African American history and culture the focus of teaching and learning and fellowship .”

According to the Wikipedia entry for Polk,

Leonidas Polk( April 10, 1806- June 14, 1864) was a bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and the founding fathers of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate Country of America, which separated from the Episcopal Church of the United Position of America. He was a slaveholding planter in Maury County, Tennessee, and a second cousin of President James K. Polk. He resigned his ecclesiastical position to become a major general in the Confederate army, when he was announced ” Sewanee‘s Fighting Bishop “. His official likenes at the University of the South represents him dressed as a bishop with his army uniform hanging nearby.

Bishop Polk was the leading founder of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, which he envisioned as a national university for the South and a New World equivalent to Oxford and Cambridge, both in England.( In his August 1856 letter to Bishop Elliott, he expounded on the secessionist motives for his university .) Polk laid and consecrated the cornerstone for the first building on October 9, 1860. Polk’s foundational bequest at Sewanee is remembered ever through his portrait Sword Over the Gown, painted by Eliphalet F. Andrews in 1900. After the original was vandalized in 1998, a follow by Connie Erickson was unveiled on June 1, 2003. The entitle refers to the answer brought forward by Bishop Polk” when asked to comment in Richmond if he was putting off the gown of an Episcopal bishop to take over the sword of a Confederate general, to which he replied,’ No, Sir, I am buckling the sword over the garment, ‘” indicating that he saw it was his duty as a bishop to take up arms.

More from Sewanee Purple 😛 TAGEND

Dr. Woody Register( C’8 0 ), Director of the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, explained that, among numerous Confederate representations, Polk is a particularly powerful person within University history and Confederate memory.

… After his death in 1864, Polk became a “potent figure in the Lost Cause and in the neo-Confederacy, ” Register said. “Polk was a defender of slavery as an instrument of God’s will, and he was especially hostile toward all the persons who announced bondage sinful. His memory has historically been idolized in a way where he in his very body associates Christianity and slavery.”

From New York Times 2010 obituary for Jack Kershaw 😛 TAGEND

His death was announced by the League of the South, an organization Mr. Kershaw facilitated found that tries to keep the spirit of the Confederacy alive.

Mr. Kershaw, who was also a sculptor, was best known in his hometown for creating a 27 -foot equestrian statue of the Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, a the founding fathers of the Ku Klux Klan. Unveiled in 1998, it was made in a private common along Interstate 65.

The monument, offensive to countless, outlined commentary, but Mr. Kershaw did not shy from insult. “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery, ” he once told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Kershaw graduated from Vanderbilt, and received his regulation degree from Nashville Y.M.C.A. Night Law School.

Bust image source Sewanee Purple:” Polk sculpture and plaque in storage in the University Archives. Photo by Claire Smith( C’2 2 ).”

Read more: episcopalcafe.com