Jefferson Davis statue’s purpose misinterpreted

Clark Patterson

As someone who has followed the Six Pack statue controversy since the late 1980s, I feel obligated to respond to the current advocacy by two SG presidential tickets and the Daily Texan Editorial Board to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis. 

Contrary to current conventional wisdom, the statue of Davis was not erected in 1933 to glorify white supremacy. Instead, the Davis statue, along with the other five Six Pack statues and the Littlefield Fountain, together form one complete work of art intended to memorialize the 97 Longhorns killed in World War I and to acknowledge that WWI had finally reunited the American North and South, 50 years after our Civil War. 

Hence, the statue of Davis, president of the Confederacy, sits on the west side of the Main Mall, and the statue of Woodrow Wilson, US president during WWI, sits on the east side. Sculptor Pompeo Coppini and architect Paul Cret did not make these choices randomly. Due to a lack of funds, the statue of George Washington was not completed by Coppini until 1955. Far from being a glorification of white privilege, the Littlefield Memorial Entrance Gate, consisting of the fountain and six statues, was created as a conciliatory acknowledgement that the wounds from the Civil War were finally beginning to heal.

Also, efforts were undertaken by UT students in the early 1990s to remove the Davis statue as well as the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston. A few years later, the game plan changed. Instead of removing statues, attempts were made to build a more diverse set of statues. Hence, the unveiling of the MLK statue on the UT campus in 1999, the statue of Cesar Chavez in 2007 and the statue of Barbara Jordan in 2009.

This second strategy is far more sound. Instead of removing statues and memorials that ably served their purpose in the world of the 1930s, we should simply add more statues to reflect the current worldview.

— Clark Patterson, UT alumnus, in response to the Tuesday editorial titled "Jefferson Davis statue removal legislation offers us hope for future of SG."