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University puts up a bronze statue of George HW Bush, sparking controversy among black students

Junie Sihlangu
Jan 31, 2019
11:21 A.M.
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On Sunday, Hampton University unveiled “Legacy Park” on their campus. The new installment features 13 statues that represent people who are considered part of the Hampton family.

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One such bronze statue is of former President George H.W. Bush. His statue has caused controversy and debate among the black students who attend the historically black university.

Hampton University’s “Legacy Park” includes friends who have studied, worked, and demonstrated support of the institution's mission of academic excellence. Some of the people included President Dr. William Harvey, President Barack Obama, and Rosa Parks.

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However, some of the black students were not happy with a few installations like President George H.W. Bush’s statue. A student named Kyra Robinson said:

“I just feel like a lot of his policies did harm to black people. I just feel like as an HBCU we should definitely be uplifting more black figures than putting like William Taft and George H.W. Bush on our campus."

Robinson questioned how the university chose the figures represented in the park. She was also concerned by where the university found money to pay for the statues.

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A junior at the campus, Randall Williams, felt that the campus community was supposed to be given more information about the statues before they were unveiled. He stated:

“I knew that statues were coming based on the construction, but I didn’t know who it was going to be. In order to bridge the connection between students and the administration, I think that should definitely be cleared up."

Williams added:

"Because some of those statues are definitely deserving but when you have someone like George H.W. Bush, who is honorable do not get me wrong he is honorable, but as far as the other people up there and what they mean to the campus I think that students and alumni deserve an explanation.”

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In a statement, the spokeswoman for Hampton University, B. Da’Vida Plummer said:

"Legacy Park pays tribute to 13 iconic individuals who have supported Hampton University’s mission of providing high-quality academics and the development of character in all who are and have been associated with this great institution.”

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She further explained:

“This is a noteworthy group of men and women, Black, White, and Native American, who hail from all walks of life—Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, William Howard Taft, Mary Jackson, Barack Hussein Obama, Susan B. La Flesche, Mary Peake, George H.W. Bush, Jerome Holland, Reuben Burrell, Frederick Douglas, Dr. William R. Harvey and General Samuel Chapman Armstrong.”

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She concluded:

“The privately funded park, commissioned by Hampton University’s Board of Trustees, recognizes the significant support from all who are represented and it will be visited and enjoyed for generations.”

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The Hampton University Board of Trustees are the ones who commissioned “Legacy Park.” was commissioned by. It was built between the university’s historical landmarks, Memorial Church and Ogden Hall.

The university’s website outlines the role each person played that earned them a statue.

The fight against Bush’s statue has been picked up by Rep. William Lacy Clay who was supported by his former congressman father, William L. "Bill" Clay. The younger Clay said he would ask the Congressional Black Caucus to come out against the university for honoring the late president on their campus.

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