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Confederate Monument in Murray
Confederate Monument in Murray.JPG
Location Jct. of KY 94 and Ky 121, Murray, Kentucky
Built 1917
Architect Mcneil Marble Co., Marietta, GA
MPS Civil War Monuments of Kentucky MPS
NRHP reference No. 97000711
Added to NRHP July 17, 1997

The Confederate Monument in Murray is a statue located in the northeast corner of the Calloway County Courthouse in Murray, Kentucky. It honors the 800 citizens of the county who served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, and is one of several Confederate monuments in Kentucky featuring Robert E. Lee. There is another one in Bardstown KY. Despite recent controversy, the Calloway County Fiscal Court voted to keep the statue on its grounds in July 2020.

Establishment

During the American Civil War, Calloway County saw about 800 of its citizens serve in the Confederate Army. 200 plus served in the Union Army. At the time of the Civil War 1,500 enslaved people were living in Calloway County making up about 15% of the county's population at the time.

The monument was funded after a three-year fund raising drive by the J. N. Williams Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (U.D.C) in 1917, whose chairman died during that period; her name was added to the monument in tribute. The U.D.C. paid $2,500 to Marietta, Georgia's McNeel Monument Company for the structure.

Structure

The 16.5-foot-tall (5.0 m) monument has three parts. The bottom is a porcelain drinking fountain; That was a whites-only when it was a working fountain, a step pedal was used to obtain water. In its time, was the most elaborate and modern of the Civil War fountain monuments: the other three fountains are the Confederate Memorial in Mayfield, Confederate Memorial Fountain in Hopkinsville, and the Confederate Monument of Cadiz.

Four 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) Doric columns support a granite canopy. Inside the canopy is an ornate iron light fixture with four incandescent bulbs to light the fountain. On top are four marble balls and a 5.5-foot-tall (1.7 m) marble statue of Lee, making it the only monument in Kentucky that heavily features Robert E. Lee; the only other monument in Kentucky with a likeness of Lee is Bardstown, Kentucky's Confederate Monument of Bardstown which has only a small relief portrait of Lee below the large statue of a Confederate soldier.

On July 17, 1997, the Confederate Monument in Murray was one of sixty-one different monuments related to the Civil War in Kentucky placed on the National Register of Historic Places, as part of the Civil War Monuments of Kentucky Multiple Property Submission.

Historically

Since its installation, the Robert E. Lee monument has gained significant controversy over its highlighting of an American traitor, slaveholder, and racist. Statues, such as this one, that were built far after the end of the Civil War during the period of Jim Crow laws are noted by historians from the American Historical Association as being erected to "intimidate African-Americans politically, as well as isolate them from mainstream public life". Historians also acknowledge, the monuments play a part of the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" narrative, which downplays or omits the role of slavery in the Civil War, painting it instead as a heroic struggle by an outnumbered army to preserve the Southern way of life. The Robert E. Lee statue in Murray is an example of the statues installed during the peak of the "Lost Cause", when the forces of commercialization had begun to infiltrate the U.D.C. and the United Confederate Veterans (U.C.V.) organizations.

Calls for removal

In the wake of the George Floyd protests in June 2020, a call to remove the statue was initially made by Sherman Neal II, a football coach at Murray State University in a letter to Murray Mayor Bob Rogers and other local officials. When asked about this statue, Governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear said, "If it is at a courthouse, it ought to come down. Having a confederate monument on courthouse grounds or in the rotunda is not the right thing." A number of other prominent local organizations and individuals called for Calloway Court to remove the statue including a unanimous resolution by the Murray City Council, Murray State University, Murray Main Street Board of Directors, and Ja Morant, among others.

Protests

In the two months following the June 2020 calls for removal, a number of protests took place in Murray and Calloway County related to this statue, the killing of George Floyd, and police brutality nationwide. An arrest was made of a man at the protests for allegedly pointing a gun at protesters from his vehicle. Another arrest was made of a man who allegedly rolled down his window and sprayed pepper spray on multiple protesters and five police officers. According to police, the suspect then attempted to drive through the crowd of protesters and officers before being stopped by police. Following the Calloway Court's July 2020 vote to keep the statue on its grounds, a series of protests were held at the statue including both protesters and counter-protesters of the Court's decision.

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