Updated 9:45 a.m. ET
The president of the University of Texas at Austin has ordered the immediate removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and three other Confederate-era figures — Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg — from a main area of campus.
President Greg Fenves announced the statues' fate Sunday night, and the removals should be complete by mid-morning Monday. A university spokesman says the area has been blocked off.
Lee and Johnston were Confederate generals, Reagan was a Confederate postmaster and Hogg was the first native-born governor of Texas and the son of a Confederate general.
The Texas Tribune reports:
"Hogg was alive during the Civil War, but was too young to serve. UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird said the university had no objection to Hogg's statue on campus, but "the entire statuary is one exhibit, so it all goes together."
The debate over public memorials for Confederate-era figures catapulted into national conversation after one person was killed when a car rammed into people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
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In a letter to the university community, Fenves connected the events with the decision to remove the statues now:
"[T]he horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism." ...
"The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university's core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres."
"We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus."
The statues of Lee, Johnston and Reagan will be added to the collection at the university's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History for "scholarly study," Fenves wrote. The Hogg statue will be considered for relocation elsewhere on campus.
In 2015, the university removed a statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis.
On Saturday, Duke University announced that it had removed a statue of Gen. Lee that was in the entry to the large chapel on its campus. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.