Tulane University has removed its ‘Victory Bell’ after learning of its ties to slavery through its historical archives. The Victory Bell was cast in 1825 and donated by Richard W. Leche, a former Louisiana governor and a Tulane law school graduate who was convicted of a defrauding scheme in 1940 and pardoned by President Harry Truman in 1953.
The bell was rung to celebrate victories outside Fogelman Arena, where Tulane’s men’s and women’s basketball teams played. In 2011, the bell was installed in front of McAlister Auditorium on Tulane’s Uptown New Orleans campus where students would also rub it for good luck.
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. In a letter emailed to the Tulane community, President Mike Fitts and Board Chairman Doug Hertz said they were informed last week that the ‘Victory Bell’ was originally used to direct the movements of enslaved people on a plantation.
The school plans to form a special committee to recommend what will replace the bell in front of the auditorium, near the center of the New Orleans campus.