Statue of slave-holding founder on FSU campus to be moved

Published: Jul. 18, 2018 at 9:04 PM CDT
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A two-year campaign by FSU students to move a statue of a man once thought to be FSU’s founder and to rename the law school has mostly succeeded.

Frances Epps, former mayor of Tallahassee, slave owner, and grandson of Thomas Jefferson has graced the grounds outside FSU’s administration building for almost two decades.

He won’t be there much longer.

“We found that he was not 'the' founder, he was among a lot of folks who worked on the establishment of Florida State University," said FSU President John Thrasher.

Thrasher will also be asking the Legislature to rename BK Roberts Hall, the main law school building.

Roberts was Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court and he thwarted a black man, Virgil Hawkins, from attending UF’s law school.

“His opinions in that case clearly circumvented the United States Supreme Court and I believe violated the rule of law in that case," said Thrasher.

However, Thrasher didn’t adopt one of three recommendations.

The building named for Epps won’t change, and the statue, which is a couple of hundred feet away, is likely to be moved inside.

Freshman Seth Ravenna thinks the punishment fits the crime.

“He did own some slaves and stuff, but he should still be involved in this place," said Revenna.

The Students for a Democratic Society spent two years pushing for Epps' removal.

“The way that Epps handled law enforcement during his time as Justice of the Peace and as Mayor was a very racist, anti-abolitionist, pro-slavery way to do law enforcement," said member Maddie Hendrick.

SDS says it will continue to try and remove Epps' name from the criminology building.

Chris Epps, Francis Epps' great, great, great, great, great grandson said in a statement, “I am proud of my ancestor's role as one of the prominent figures that helped establish Florida State University and I am happy to hear that President Thrasher will honor that legacy by preserving the name of Eppes hall.”