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'We don’t remove history': Thomas Jefferson statue to stay at Mizzou after petition calls for its removal

"We learn from history. We contextualize historical figures with complex legacies. We don’t remove history"
Credit: University of Missouri - Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri said it will not be removing a Thomas Jefferson statue from its campus after an online petition called for its removal.

One of the organizers of the petition, Roman Leaphart, said he objected to the statue because Jefferson owned slaves and fathered children with one of his slaves.

Leaphart also said he was motivated to create the petition after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, according to the Associated Press.

In 2015, students also petitioned to have the statue removed.

Thursday, Mizzou president and interim chancellor Mun Choi, three university curators and university leaders met with Leaphart and leaders of the Legion of Black Collegians.

A spokesperson for the school said the meeting was "very constructive." But the next day, Mizzou issued a statement saying it would not be removing the statue.

“We learn from history. We contextualize historical figures with complex legacies. We don’t remove history," Choi said.

Full statement from Choi:

“The conversation was an example of the power of civil discourse and included discussion of complex issues and different perspectives. 

After further discussion with other curators, the university decided not to remove the Jefferson statue. We learn from history. We contextualize historical figures with complex legacies. We don’t remove history.

We are committed to maintaining open lines of communication, including continuing conversations and learning from all involved.”

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