The University of Arkansas (UArk) at Fayetteville is considering removing the bronze statue of former Senator J. William Fulbright from its campus and stripping his name from the UArk arts and sciences college following committee recommendations.
The committee — consisting of students, faculty, and alumni — decided on the recommendation after reviewing the former senator’s part in obstructing racial integration in higher education. The panel also suggested removing the name of Charles Brough, a former Arkansas governor, from a university dining hall.
The institution began questioning Fulbrights’ legacy because of his influence on civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 60s. The former US senator worked to block the racial integration of schools and took an active role in trying to block civil rights legislation.
“J. William Fulbright, while Senator, voted against the interests of Black students, and supported values antithetical to the university. For many, the statue is a memorial to those segregationist values and a daily reminder to our Black students of that time,” the committee said in the full report.
What Comes Next
The committee voted 15-1 in favor of taking down the Fulbright statue and moving it to a different location outside campus as a response to student demands during the #BlackAtUARK movement.
“This matter is complicated by Sen. Fulbright’s deep connections to the state and university, and important international contributions, at the same time acknowledging that the name causes pain for some on our campus, which is unfortunate,” UArk Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said in a statement.
Steinmetz explained that the next step would be “gathering feedback on the recommendations, considering additional input and perspectives from a wide range of university stakeholders, including faculty, staff, alumni and students.”
The committee will collect feedback until the end of May. The Board of Trustees must give its approval before any major changes occur.