Texas A&M's Kellen Mond on removing controversial statue: 'I need to see action'

Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, who has advocated for the removal of a statue of former Texas A&M president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, stepped up his campaign Tuesday, saying, "I need to see action."

The statue, known as "Sully," was built in 1919 in honor of Ross, who served as the Aggies' president from 1891 to 1898 and is credited with saving the university amid financial struggles and boosting its enrollment. The statue sits prominently in the center of the campus in College Station, Texas.

About 24,000 people have signed a petition for the statue's removal, and about 25,000 have signed one to keep it. There were protests on both sides last weekend.

Mond, a senior from San Antonio, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the arguments of Sullivan's contributions to A&M should not outweigh his past, citing several historical examples.

"The values of Texas A&M University do not align with RACISM, VIOLENCE, SLAVERY & SEGREGATION, but Jimbo Fisher's most prominent saying will always stick with me: 'Your ACTIONS speak so loud I can't hear what you're saying,'" Mond wrote. "The Lawrence Sullivan Ross Statue NEEDS to be removed. Texas A&M University, I NEED to see ACTION."

Several current players and former players, including Johnny Manziel, tweeted support for Mond.

"Proud of you my g. Keep being the leader you were always meant to be #AllLove #GigEm," Manziel wrote.

Ross' complicated past has come into focus in recent years as monuments of figures with ties to the Confederacy or racist policies have been scrutinized. Before arriving at A&M, Ross was a celebrated "Indian fighter" on the Texas frontier and a brigadier general in the Confederate army.

Ross defenders say his actions as Texas governor -- as cited by Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp and president Michael K. Young -- show that he was an advocate for black Texans. He is credited with securing funding for Prairie View A&M, a historically black university, and he supported educational and mental health services for black Texans while he was governor.

"Lawrence Sullivan Ross will have his statue at Texas A&M forever, not because of obstinance, but because he deserves the honor with a lifetime of service to ALL TEXANS and ALL AGGIES," Sharp wrote to The Battalion, A&M's student newspaper, in 2018.

On Monday, Young issued a statement saying that he would "invite discussion for action with a diverse group of leaders and voices to meet regularly with senior leadership and myself."

Young also said the university intends to build a statue to honor Matthew Gaines, a former slave who in 1869 became the first black state senator in Texas and helped pass legislation that led to the creation of Texas A&M. Young's office has donated $100,000 toward the monument, and Sharp recently announced a $100,000 donation toward the project, for which he previously pledged $25,000.

Sul Ross State University, with its main campus in Alpine, Texas, is also named after Lawrence Sullivan Ross.