Student activists demand that ‘racist’ Thomas Jefferson statue be removed from the campus.
Students at Hofstra University are demanding that a statue of Thomas Jefferson be removed from campus because Jefferson owned slaves and has been “embraced as an icon” by white supremacists.
Jefferson was also an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809, but the activists don’t want to credit him with those achievements.
Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”, to William Stephens Smith, 1787. The first sentence, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” means that if liberty is to exist, there will forever be a struggle of free people with the forces of tyranny.
Little did he know that he would be seen as a tyrant and free people would fight events in history to declare they were not free then.
Ja’Loni Owens, a Hofstra student and Black Lives Matter activist, who started a change.org petition that warns it will discuss “slavery, rape, eugenics, anti-black racism” and claims the Founding Father’s statue belongs in a museum with proper context, “not displayed on a college campus, especially not in front of a hub of student life.”
Owens specifically addressed “white allies” in their Facebook event for the Friday protest “Jefferson Has Gotta Go!” to be held at the statue in front of the student center.
“The Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center is one of the central points for on-campus life and student activities,” the petition reads. “It is unfortunate then that a bronze sculpture of a 71-year-old Thomas Jefferson, gifted to the university by Hofstra Trustee David Mack, is right in front of the Student Center.”
“Please understand that this is a protest against white supremacy and that you as white people – even though you’re allies – benefit from white supremacy!” Owens wrote. “Your obligation is to fight that! Come prepared to step up if racial slurs or otherwise offensive things are said to organizers of color or poc attending. If you’re able, come prepared to hold posters and like….PROTEST.”
“The leading black organizers will wear handcuffs around their wrists to honor our ancestors who were enslaved by Europeans and forced to build this country. If you want to volunteer to wear handcuffs, COMMENT!” Amor continued, stating, “HOPEFULLY, nothing will get physical. There’s so many of us that anyone who tries will ….. lose ….. so I don’t anticipate anyone trying!”
Fox News reports:
Owens added a stern warning to white students: “Do not come and take selfies for your Instagram feed or SO HELP ME GOD.”
The demonstration’s leader also warned non-black people of color (POC):
“Y’all are POC, but not everyone’s roots run through enslavement! Pls be respectful! Don’t derail! There is room for all of us!!! POC solidarity, pls!”
While the university approved the protest, Owens wrote that “if Hofstra was supportive and embraced anti-racist work, we would not be protesting.”
The protest is co-sponsored by a number of campus organizations: Campus Feminist Collective, Collegiate Women of Color, Democrats of Hofstra University, Hofstra History Club, Hofstra NAACP Chapter, Peace Action Matters, Queer & Trans People of Color Coalition, Student Advocates of Safer Sex, The Gender Identity Federation, The Pride Network of Hofstra University, and Young Democratic Socialists of Hofstra.
When reached for comment, the organizers pointed to the event description.
“Jefferson’s values aided in the construction of institutionalized racism and justified the subjugation of black people in the United States,” the petition reads, alleging, “Jefferson has been embraced as an icon by white supremacist and neo-nazi organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and online white supremacist chat rooms…”
But not everyone on campus supports the protest.
“Not to bring problems, but I’d like to point out that as you are making the protest about your right to freedom of speech, don’t forget that people like Jefferson gave you that right,” Hofstra student Conor Dawson wrote, as reported by CampusReform.org.
“Jefferson was one of the earliest anti-slavery advocates in the 18/19th century. He even proposed abolition and banning it outright in congress. Just do a little bit of basic reading on the subject and youll [sic] see that he stood for a LOT more than just that,” Alex McHale added.
“To add to the criticism here, Jefferson was not involved in eugenics. That movement happened in the early 20th century, long after Jefferson. Also, there is no evidence that he slept with any slaves besides Sally
In February, Owens held a “silent protest” to “draw attention to racism on Hofstra’s campus” and memorialized Trayvon Martin by taping a piece of paper that said “Black Lives Matter” on the Jefferson statue.
Hofstra University did not immediately respond to request for comment.