Petition to remove Thomas Jefferson statue on MU quad gaining traction

1 month 1 week 1 day ago Thursday, June 04 2020 Jun 4, 2020 Thursday, June 04, 2020 2:25:00 PM CDT June 04, 2020 in News
By: Ian Russell, KOMU 8 News
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COLUMBIA - A petition to remove the Thomas Jefferson statue from the University of Missouri quad is gaining momentum with over 2,250 signatures.

MU sophomore Roman Leapheart started the petition to voice his concerns.

"I started this petition because I just had something that was bothering me," he said.

Leaphart said the statue bothered him because of Jefferson's ties to slavery. Jefferson owned over 600 slaves during his lifetime, a painful reminder for Leapheart.

"We're not enslaved anymore, but then you have to see someone who enslaved your ancestors, and it's kind of like you're kicking a horse when it's down," Leapheart said.

This, however, is not a new idea; a similar petition went around in 2015. That petition didn't gain the traction that this one is, and Leapheart said that's because of the leadership at the university. 

“We didn't have leadership that listened in 2015, and that's evident based off of everything that happened," he said.

Even though it's been five years since that initial petition, Leapheart says now is the right time to bring this back up. 

"I think now is the right time to bring this back up because this is one of the first, easiest steps," he said. "Honestly to start righting the wrongs they did in 2015."

MU spokesperson Christian Basi confirmed they are aware of the petition, but they haven't decided what the next steps in addressing it are.

Even if the petition doesn't end up going anywhere, Leapheart said he has to try.

"If I give up, if everyone else just gives up, then what was the point in even starting this if I was going to give up?" he asked.

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