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Tulane University removes Victory Bell because of its 'horrific' past on plantation

Officials at the New Orleans school said the bell was an "instrument of slavery" and could no longer be used in a celebratory manner.
Image: Tulane University in New Orleans
Tulane University in New Orleans.Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images file

School officials at a New Orleans university have removed its Victory Bell after learning that it was used on a plantation, saying it symbolized a "horrific part of our nation's past."

In a letter to students Thursday, officials at Tulane University said it was "terribly disheartening" to learn about the history of the monument, which they called a "symbol of the Tulane spirit."

The bell came to the university six decades ago. For years, it was rung to celebrate Tulane basketball victories.

But the letter, from board Chairman Doug Hertz and President Mike Fitts, said officials learned last week that the bell was forged in 1825 and was used to direct the movement of enslaved Africans.

"Now that we understand its history as an instrument of slavery, continuing to use this bell in a celebratory manner would run counter to our values as a university community," the letter said.

The bell was moved to storage Thursday while the school further investigates its origins. The letter added that officials are still determining what to do with it next.

The monument's removal was one of many in recent years, as cities and universities from North Carolina and Kentucky to Mississippi and Virginia have reckoned with the legacy of Confederate statues.