For the second time in three years, Florida State University plans to remove a statue of Francis Eppes from its Tallahassee campus as the school reckons with its past.
News of the statue’s removal was part of a broader announcement Thursday from FSU President John Thrasher, which included naming 30 members to a newly formed task force on anti-racism, equality and inclusion for the 2020-2021 school year.
“We have a long history of addressing difficult racism and inclusion issues on this campus, and we know there is still much to work to do. As the nation faces great unrest and an urgent call for change, we, as a university, will continue to listen, learn and evolve,” Thrasher said in part.
Led by a three-member executive committee chaired by English professor Maxine Montgomery, the task force is charged with identifying racial gaps on campus and making recommendations about names and symbols found at the school including the statue, Eppes Hall and Doak S. Campbell Stadium.
The statue of Eppes – the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, a former Tallahassee mayor and slave owner – has long been the subject of controversy. It was removed from its original location near the university’s front gates in July 2018, according to CNN.
Less than a year later, it was restored but moved to a less visible location on campus. A new plaque providing a more accurate depiction of Eppes’ past was included with that change.
“With the hope of fostering a stronger sense of trust, respect and good faith within the university community, Professor Montgomery and I agree that the Francis W. Eppes statue should be immediately placed off campus as the task force begins its work,” Thrasher said.
The task force, created July 6, will hold its first organization session sometime in August. Among other things, the group will create bimonthly reports on its progress and recommendations, as well as a final report at the end of the school year, which will inform Thrasher’s decisions.
“I’m looking forward to hearing input from the task force on a range of important items connected to racial inequity,” he said. “This task force will be results-driven, and I know the work they do now — with the full support of the administration — will result in a stronger future for Florida State University.”
Below is a list of the task force’s members:
Task Force Executive Committee
• Maxine Montgomery, Professor of English (Faculty) – Chair
• Brandon Bowden, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (Staff)
• Michelle Douglas, Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office (Staff)
Task Force Members
• Rawan Abhari, Secretary of Internal Affairs, Student Government Association (Undergraduate Student)
• Tom Block, Vice President for Advancement Relations, FSU Foundation (Staff)
• Cortez Brown, College of Medicine (Medical Student)
• Billy R. Close, Assistant Professor and Director of Service Learning and Mentoring, College of Criminology & Criminal Justice (Faculty)
• Katrinell Davis, Associate Professor of Sociology (Faculty)
• Kyle Doney, Seminole Tribe of Florida, FSU Alumni Association National Board of Directors (Alumnus)
• Miles Feacher, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (Undergraduate Student)
• Craig Filar, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies (Faculty)
• Stacey Hardin, Teaching Faculty in Special Education (Faculty)
• Robinson Herrera, Associate Professor of History (Faculty)
• Roxanne Hughes, Director, Center for Integrating Research & Learning at National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (Faculty)
• April Jackson, Assistant Professor of Urban & Regional Planning (Faculty)
• Gail Jackson, Senior Custodial Supervisor (Staff)
• Nastassia “Tazzy” Janvier, Vice President, Student Government Association (Undergraduate Student)
• Cassandra D. Jenkins, Parliamentarian, FSU Black Alumni Association (Alumna, Community)
• Maxine Jones, Professor of History (Faculty)
• Hannah Kelsey, President, Garnet and Gold Key (Undergraduate Student)
• Samantha Kunin, College of Law (Law Student, Undergraduate Alumna)
• Bruce Lamont, Jim Moran Eminent Scholar in Business Administration (Faculty)
• Stefany Moncada, Multicultural Admissions Counselor and President, Hispanic/Latinx Alumni Network (Staff)
• Malik Osborne, Men’s Basketball Student-Athlete (Undergraduate Student)
• Alan Rosenzweig, Deputy County Administrator, Leon County (Community)
• Nan Rothstein, former Vice President, Student Government Association (Alumna)
• Kevin Rutois, President, Interfraternity Council (Undergraduate Student)
• Jarrett “Jay” L. Terry, Assistant Provost (Faculty)
• Greg Washington, Special Operations Lieutenant, FSU Police Department (Staff)
• Allisson Yu, National Board of Directors, FSU Alumni Association (Alumna)