To read Bette McCall Miller’s version of Baylor University’s imperfect history by “imperfect people,” I have to believe she meant for this to be satire.
Miller asks, “…can we not offer grace to those who knew their actions at the time were legal and believed them to be moral?” The answer is unequivocally, no. Because enslavement does not just mean possession. Slavery means physical and emotional torment. Slavery means rape — of women, men and children. Slavery means buying and selling an enslaved person’s children like they are livestock. And, for countless persons, slavery means brutal death. And as countless diaries, letters, essays and writings have shown us, these men, and all who engaged in this violent practice, knew well that what they did was wrong. No, Ms. Miller, I cannot offer these “imperfect people” one iota of grace.
Miller’s tale wishes slavery meant carrying “master’s” picnic basket on a picturesque Sunday afternoon after church. But what of the enslaved man who did not carry bricks fast enough for the foreman when constructing Old Main? Does a $300 scholarship from “Texas Baptists and other Baylor benefactors,” 176 years later, satisfy Miller — or, more importantly, the generations-removed children of the slaves who were whipped? And should the faces of those who perpetuated that brutality be bronzed and celebrated in perpetuity because the reality of a whitewashed past is too uncomfortable for Miller and many others to confront? No.
The Commission on Historic Campus Representations thinks Baylor University can best serve this community, in part, through greater transparency of memorial namesakes’ ties to slavery, if not the complete relocation for some of these memorials. This alum agrees with the recommendations because to do anything less is complicity in humanity’s greatest tragedy.
Move them into the Mayborn Museum, if they must be displayed. Lay out their good deeds for the white community. And beside these men’s statues, dedicate the same amount of space, grace and honor to the human beings they enslaved.
Robert Cervantes, Waco
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Baylor University now has a great opportunity to tell the nation the ideals for which a great Christian teaching institution should stand. Will it instead miss this opportunity in order to gain brief glory in today’s revisionist society?
If it attempts to rewrite its history by removing statues and renaming buildings, what will really be accomplished? The individuals today who choose to judge past Baylor leaders based on today’s cancel culture set themselves up to be similarly judged by future generations.
Recall what One once taught: For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
If they continue with the revisionist culture, they should go all the way. First, each should examine their own ancestry, and if any ancestors are found who owned slaves, they should resign from any affiliation with Baylor. Next, they should raze the buildings on campus, turn the campus into a grazing land, and return it to the Native Americans who are the rightful owners. Lastly, they should each return to their own DNA-specified homeland.
Or they can just teach our history to show how our nation’s Founding Fathers created a framework, based on the Judeo-Christian ideals of Western civilization that, if followed, will continually improve the lives of all Americans. And they can remind all of us that the teaching of the One who said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” should be taught and followed.
Don Hardcastle, Waco