Tulane University removes its Victory Bell after learning it was originally used on a plantation

Tulane University has removed its Victory Bell after learning that it originally came from a plantation where Africans were enslaved. The Tulane University seal on campus on February 10, 2020.

(CNN) -- Tulane University has removed its Victory Bell after learning that it originally came from a plantation where Africans were enslaved.

University president Mike Fitts and board chairman Doug Hertz announced Thursday in a letter to the Tulane community that the campus landmark would be moved to storage as officials investigate its exact origins.

"As an academic institution, we believe it is important to find a way to use this bell to further our knowledge and understanding of slavery and pursue a more just society," the letter reads.

Tulane's decision comes as colleges and universities across the nation have been grappling with their ties to slavery and how to make amends, including by reconsidering monuments or landmarks on campus because of their histories.

Tulane only recently discovered through its historical archives that the bell was originally a plantation bell, used to direct the movement of enslaved Africans throughout their day, the officials said.

The bell was made in 1825 and came to Tulane between 1960 to 1961, according to their letter. It was donated to the university by former Louisiana Gov. Richard Leche, who was convicted of a defrauding scheme in 1940 and pardoned by President Harry Truman in 1953.

For decades, the bell was rung to celebrate victories outside Fogelman Arena, where Tulane's men's and women's basketball teams play. In 2011, the bell was installed in front of McAlister Auditorium on Tulane's Uptown New Orleans campus. It's since been campus tradition for new students to touch the bell for good luck during convocation.

"It is terribly disheartening to learn that it is, in fact, a vestige of a horrific part of our nation's past," the letter reads. "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."

It's the latest university to reckon with ties to slavery

The finding came out of the university's Presidential Commission on Race and Tulane Values, which was formed in 2015 in an effort to make the university more diverse and inclusive.

Fitts and Hertz also said that the university would form a special committee of board members, students, faculty, alumni and staff to recommend a replacement for the Victory Bell.

"In doing so, we hope to establish a new tradition that truly represents a victory for all," they wrote in the letter.

The University of Mississippi last year considered a plan to relocate a Confederate monument on its campus. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also removed its infamous Silent Sam monument after years of protests from students.

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