Welcome Students, Let’s Talk About Confederate Statues

Cameron McWhirter and Melissa Korn:

Shadé Shepard recently attended an orientation session addressing the slave-owner connections of her new college, Sewanee.

Also known as the University of the South, the liberal-arts school in the Tennessee mountains was conceived by slave owners who didn’t want their sons going North for an education, and many ex-Confederates taught there after the Civil War.

“I appreciated them being blunt about it,” said Ms. Shepard, an 18-year-old African-American first-year student from Washington, D.C. Life on the predominantly white campus “will definitely take some adjusting,” she said, though so far, people have been welcoming.

The toppling of a Confederate statue by protesters on Monday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the latest skirmish in an intense debate over the future of such monuments and imagery on southern campuses. Institutions from Virginia to Mississippi are trying to come to terms with statues, markers and building names linked to their Confederate past, without alienating alumni and donors.