Jefferson Is Another Target
At both the University of Missouri at Columbia and the College of William & Mary, critics have been placing yellow sticky notes on Jefferson statues, labeling him -- among other things -- "rapist" and "racist."
Once again, students are raising the question of whether men seen as heroes in American history were decidedly unheroic when it came to issues of race -- and black students are demanding that colleges consider the impact of various honors for people whom they do not consider heroes. While Princeton has said it is considering the issue of the Wilson name, which could well remain, the student protest movement has led to widespread discussion of Wilson's record on race, which even fans of his idealistic internationalist vision admit was horrible. Publications such as Vox and Salon are running articles detailing just how bad Wilson was with regard to issues of race -- and giving prominence to a part of the historical record many have never considered.
[HNN Editor: The story includes comments from several historians. Paul Finkelman, author of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson, says the statues of Jefferson should be removed. Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, agrees. Annette Gordon-Reed, author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, opposes removal, saying Jefferson is just too much a part of America’s story to be dropped.]