Duke University removes Lee statue from chapel
by Mickey McLean
Posted 8/19/17, 11:15 am
Duke University removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its campus chapel early Saturday morning. Lee’s likeness, which was vandalized earlier this week, stood among statues of nine other historical figures related to Methodism, Protestantism, and the American South at the entryway to Duke Chapel, an ecumenical place of worship in Durham, N.C., that has roots in the United Methodist Church. Other men depicted above or beside the entryway include Thomas Jefferson, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, and poet and musician Sidney Lanier, who served in the Confederate army and was assigned to a blockade-running ship along the North Carolina coast during the Civil War. In a letter to the campus community, Duke President Vincent Price said he consulted with faculty, staff, students, and alumni about his decision to remove Lee’s statue. “I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,” Price wrote. The move comes one week after a protest involving white supremacists over the removal of a statue of Lee in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent, resulting in the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer. On Monday, protesters in Durham used a rope to topple a statue of a Confederate soldier outside an old courthouse downtown. Authorities have charged eight people with vandalism in that incident. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has called for the removal of Confederate monuments from public property across the state, despite a state law restricting such action. That law does not affect Duke, a private university.
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