The independent news organization of Duke University

Letter to the editor

A open letter to President Price:

Congratulations on your appointment. I've heard several wonderful things about you from people who were at Penn as well as Michigan during your respective tenures. On their testimony, I believe that you will make alumni like me proud.

It's unfortunate that your first public test as president of our University relates to the disposition of a seemingly silent stone artifact that is part of the magnificent cathedral that sits at the heart of our campus.

But the statue of Robert E. Lee is not silent.

An artifact glorifying a general who rebelled against our country to preserve the corrupt institution of slavery speaks volumes without making a sound. In 2017, though really for decades, such a statue has no place at our institution nor in the Durham community.

By now I am sure you are familiar with the history of when the Chapel was built (1932) and when Duke admitted its first black students—woefully not until 1963. But this is not about the history of Duke. It is about the present of our University.

In two short weeks, as part of a tradition that I fondly remember, all Duke freshmen will walk into the Chapel, past that prominent statue, and sit for a convocation lecture. The convocation, which for many years was delivered by Maya Angelou—I wish she was with us now so that we could hear her thoughts on this, asks Duke students to honor each other and honor the University as they engage in their academic pursuits.

If the Lee statue remains, is the University honoring them back?

Martin Barna is Trinity '02 and was a former editorial page editor.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Letter to the editor” on social media.