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Founding Fathers statues removed at Washburn

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 7:10 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Washburn University removed their Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin statues outside the law building at the end of July.

With a Jefferson statue at the University of Missouri targeted by vandals, and a petition, Washburn President Dr. Jerry Farley told 13 News he wanted to get ahead of possible student and faculty disapproval of the two founding fathers who once owned slaves.

“They poured paint on it, they tried to break it apart, they had wrapped it up in some gaudy, terrible stuff and had written some things about it and then we realized that we’ve got one of them right here and so what do we want to do,” he said.

Law school alum Gerald Michaud donated the statues in 2000 and 2002. He passed away in 2005.

Farley said he called Michaud’s widow to explain the situation at Mizzou.

“I don’t want you to be embarrassed but I also don’t want you to be shocked if this occurs because somebody is going to ask about it or they’re going to come do something. So, the representative from the family said if it’s going to create some problem, we don’t want our name associated with it so give it back to us,” he said.

Blue benches now sit in place of the statues at the School of Law building and Farley said he doesn’t know what will happen to them now that the family has them back.

“Were they happy to get it back? I think so,” he said. “They may give it to someone else.”

Farley said Washburn has a lot of contemporary art around campus and that it was best to move on with those two statues.

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