AUSTIN, Texas – A statue of James Hogg, the son of a Confederate general, will be re-erected on the University of Texas campus after being removed in 2017 along with three other statues of historical figures with ties to the Confederacy.
UT President Gregory Fenves made the announcement in a letter to the University of Texas community Thursday, lauding the first Texas-born governor's contributions to the state while acknowledging that he was a child during the Civil War with a "complicated and nuanced legacy." Hogg signed into law the state's first Jim Crow bills while leading the state from 1891 to 1895.
Fenves had four statues quietly removed from their pedestals in the middle of the night in August 2017 after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Va., and a counterprotester was killed. In addition to Hogg, the statues depicted Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army; Albert Sidney Johnston, a general in the Texas, U.S. and Confederate armies; and John Reagan, a Confederate postmaster general.
At the time, Fenves said the monuments were symbols of white supremacy.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"The events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism," he said.
But he noted that the Hogg statue would be considered for reinstallation at another site on campus. The Lee, Johnston and Reagan statues were added to the school's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History for "scholarly study."
"The statues represent the subjugation of African Americans," Fenves wrote after the statues were removed in 2017. "That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry."
In his letter Thursday, Fenves' condemnation of the Hogg statue had significantly softened.
He called the former governor a "champion of public and higher education" and noted that he created the state's Railroad Commission. Hogg also proposed some of the country's first anti-lynching laws to the Texas Legislature.
But Fenves acknowledged that Hogg allowed a law to pass that reinforced segregation in railroad cars – "legislation that provided the legal basis for segregated facilities and services that would usher in the Jim Crow era in Texas."
The president also pointed out that Hogg's family members have been some of the university's most prominent donors. For example, his son Will C. Hogg, who endowed professorships, served on the Board of Regents, and daughter Ima Hogg established a foundation advocating for mental health care in Texas.
"Governor Hogg and his descendants made many contributions to UT Austin and to the state," Fenves said in the letter. "His statue has been part of the campus for more than 80 years and will continue to represent the legacy of the Hogg family in its new location," Fenves wrote.
Kasim Kabbara, a 21-year-old senior and president of UT's Black Student Alliance, said he was disappointed by the move.
"Just because someone made a contribution to UT does not erase his acts to promote segregation and discrimination in Texas," Kabbara said.
Kabbara said he felt the move was a "slap in the face" to the university's minority population.
"Putting back the statue is a direct contradiction to their desire to have diversity on campus," he said. "Why would a minority student want to come here?"
UT Spokesman J.B. Bird said when university officials took down the statues last year, they viewed the Hogg statue as separate from the other three.
"But we understand the other concerns remain," Bird said of Hogg. "There are definitely parts of his history that are disturbing and there are parts worth celebrating."
The statue, which was removed from the South Mall, will be placed between the Main Building and the Will C. Hogg Building.
The university also removed a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States, in 2015.