History & Context at UM
Recent efforts to examine race and racism on the University of Mississippi’s campus began in November 2012, after protests erupted on the University of Mississippi’s campus when Barack Obama was elected to a second term. In response, then-Chancellor Dan Jones moved to dramatically expand and reinvigorate the University of Mississippi’s Sensitivity and Respect Committee (SRC). The SRC’s October 2013 report made twelve recommendations for improving the racial climate on campus while its August 2014 action plan provided a roadmap for applying six of those measures.
In March 2016, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, upon the advice of a four-man contextualization committee, moved to implement a portion of the SRC’s action plan by installing a commemorative plaque in front of the Confederate Monument located on the University of Mississippi’s campus. The plaque’s language, however, drew criticism from the student chapter of the NAACP as well as many faculty members and graduate students for its failure to adequately capture the full historical context and meaning of the Confederacy and the Confederate Monument. Chancellor Vitter subsequently called for formal feedback on the plaque.
Members of the history faculty were actively engaged in efforts to convince the administration that the plaque it had recently placed in front of the Confederate Monument on campus needed to be revised. History faculty have used their expertise to author alternative language, met with the contextualization committee and the Chancellor to discuss revisions, circulated a petition that garnered the support of nearly 1,000 people, including many prominent members of the historical profession at other institutions, hosted two forums that allowed faculty members and graduate students to discuss their feelings about the plaque, and, finally, produced a comprehensive report that detailed the historical context and meaning of the Confederacy and the Confederate Monument, which provided recommendations about how the plaque should be revised, and presented primary sources that supported their analysis.
In June 2016, following these efforts, Chancellor Vitter announced that the plaque in front of the Confederate Monument at the University of Mississippi would be revised.
This site includes:
- The comprehensive report authored by history faculty on the Confederate Monument on campus
- The history faculty’s unanimous call for revisions to the original plaque placed in front of the Confederate Monument on campus
- A Timeline of Contextualization Efforts of important dates in the contextualization of the Confederate Monument on campus