Poof. Pow. Be gone.
In the wee hours of July 19 Florida State University’s maintenance personnel removed the statue of Francis Eppes, one of the founders of the institution that would become FSU.
The statue is said to be in the university’s possession, placed in a temporary storage until a relocation site has been decided on.
“I think the removal is a step in the right direction, but I don’t see the purpose of removing it (the statue) only to have it relocated to another part of campus,” Myeisha Dixon, an FSU sophomore, said. “I think the removal was beneficial to the school’s reputation because minority students will feel more welcomed and accepted.”
Megan Eppes (Barnes), the great great great granddaughter of Francis Eppes, took to Facebook on Thursday and wrote, “Under the cover of the night Florida State is erasing its own history. How sad that (FSU President John) Thrasher was so easily convinced to overlook all of the accomplishments and generosity of Francis Eppes and cave to the noisy few that think he is unworthy of recognition.”
Thrasher released a statement to the Florida State University community on Tuesday: “I accept the panel’s recommendation that the statue be removed from the Westcott Plaza. To keep the statue located at the front gates of campus is to give Eppes a level or prominence that is simply not appropriate.”
Chantel Jathan, another student at FSU, said: “ I think it should’ve been removed a long time ago. I think the removal is good for the school’s reputation because it shows that the atmosphere and culture of the school is evolving.”
Francis Eppes VII was the only surviving son of Maria Jefferson, daughter of founding father and U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, making him the grandson of Jefferson. Eppes served multiple terms as Tallahassee’s mayor and served as a member of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, with eight years as the president.
Because of Eppes’ history as a slave owner, in 2016 students conducted a poll on whether to have the Eppes’ statue and name removed from the Criminal Justice & Criminology Building. More than two-thirds of the students who voted did not want to have the statue removed.
In his original statement announcing his decisions on the naming panel’s recommendations, Thrasher recommended that FSU legally remove B.K. Roberts’ name from the College of Law Building because of pro-segregation opinions in the 1950s despite the Supreme Court ruling to allow an African American man to attend the College of Law. B.K. Roberts played a major role in Florida’s legal history by helping to found the FSU College of Law and was the main creator of Florida’s public defender system.
The Legislature will have to approve Thrasher’s request to remove Roberts’ name from the building.