Ja Morant writes to Kentucky judge, asks for Confederate statue in downtown Murray to come down

Ja Morant may not be living in Murray, Kentucky, anymore, but the former Murray State star wants a Confederate statue downtown removed.

The Memphis Grizzlies guard wrote a letter to a Kentucky judge this week officially asking for a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee that sits near the Calloway County courthouse to be removed. The statue was placed outside the courthouse in 1917 as a way to honor Confederate soldiers from the county.

“I am extremely proud of my ties to Murray State,” Morant wrote, in part. “I am honored to have spent two years at the university. My college experience positioned me for success and truly helped me achieve my dreams. Murray felt like a second home from the minute I stepped on campus and became a part of the Murray State community. It is full of people, families and students from all different backgrounds. 

“As a young Black man, I cannot stress enough how disturbing and oppressive it is to know the city still honors a Confederate war general defending white supremacy and hatred. Given recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement, it's necessary to act now. We can't change the culture of racism unless we change the celebration of racism. Please help us take a stand and remove this symbol of hatred and oppression."

Morant was averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game for the Grizzlies this season when play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Memphis selected him with the second overall pick in last year’s draft after two stellar seasons at Murray State, where he helped lead the Racers to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. He averaged 24.5 points and 10 assists per game in his sophomore season there, earning consensus All-American honors in the process, too.

Confederate statues and symbols have been coming down across the country in recent weeks following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody late last month — which has both sparked massive protests in the United States and a much larger conversation about racism and police brutality. NASCAR even made the move this week to finally ban all Confederate flags at races, too. 

Morant wasn’t the first to call for the statue in Murray to come down. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said this week that he thinks all Confederate monuments in public spaces need to be removed, including a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in the rotunda of the state capital, according to WKMS

“If it is at a courthouse, it ought to come down,” Beshear said, via WKMS. “Having a Confederate monument on courthouse grounds or in the rotunda is not the right thing.”

Perhaps Murray’s words, along with the governor’s support, will be enough to make the change. 

Ja Morant, the former Murray State star, wants a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee to come down. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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