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Stockton University removes bust of Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration of Independence

(The Press of Atlantic City via AP)

Stockton University has temporarily removed a bust of its namesake, Richard Stockton, from the campus library and is creating a committee to review the university’s racist past.

The hub-ub predominantly stems from the fact that Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a slaveholder. Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman has made note that controversy about the college’s namesake is not new.

In a letter to the campus community, Stockton Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lori Vermeulen, explained that the bust will return to campus with an exhibit that will give historical context.

President Kesselman has asked Provost Vermeulen to create a “Richard Stockton Exhibit Committee” that will “thoughtfully and objectively” explore the life Stockton, while contextualizing the historical bust. The forthcoming exhibit will include panel lectures and possibly even a class surrounding the controversial figure.

“We are hopeful that through the development of the Richard Stockton Exhibit we will demonstrate that difficult issues can be dealt with in a way that strengthens and unites us,” Kesselman said in a statement.

Some find the removal and review committee a big to-do about nothing.

“I really never heard anyone make a comment or complaint about Richard Stockton. I do know he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and otherwise not much is known about him. But I think removing the bust is an overreaction,” said Dylan Perry, a senior at Stockton University.

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