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Photograph by Cynthia Price
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60 Minutes interviewed historian Julian Hayter about what to do with Confederate monuments.

In a segment broadcast on 60 Minutes March 11, history professor Julian Hayter sat across from correspondent Anderson Cooper in the Jepson Alumni Center. They were discussing the Confederate statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Statues like these, Hayter told Cooper, could help people “face down history for what it is — in all its ugliness and all its beauty.”

“Do you believe the statues should be removed?” Cooper asked.

“No,” Hayter said. “I’m a historian, and I think that the statues should stay with a footnote of epic proportions.”

As a historian and a member of Richmond’s Monument Avenue Commission, Hayter is an influential voice in the national debate over the meaning of the monuments when they were erected and efforts afoot nationwide today to remove them. As he wrote in an essay in the previous issue of this magazine, and as he told Cooper, the the sides getting the most attention in the debate — advocates for leaving them alone or tearing them down — miss important middle ground.

“There are 75 million people in the South who are the descendants of Confederate soldiers, and who am I to tell them that they cannot celebrate their ancestor in a particular way?” Hayter told Cooper. “But I also have ancestors who were the victims of the slave system, and I see no reason why we can’t find a usable way to tell two stories or tell multiple stories.”

He favors leaving statues where they are and adding historical signs or markers that explain the context in which they were built. Most were erected at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century to reassert white supremacy as Jim Crow laws developed and expanded.

National and international media frequently turn to University of Richmond experts for understanding and perspectives. From January to March, Richmond faculty and staff were featured in more than 1,750 media placements, including CBS Sunday Morning, The Washington Post, Huff Post, National Geographic, CNN, Voice of America, and more.