After standing firm against the removal of any Confederate statues and the renaming of any buildings on campus just a few months ago, the Virginia Military Institute has buckled.
On Thursday, the school’s board voted to remove the statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
The VMI board also agreed to various diversity measures, including a “diversity hiring plan” and creation of a “permanent diversity office,” The Virginian-Pilot reports.
The board’s decision(s) come on the heels of VMI Superintendent J.H. Binford Peay III’s resignation and the launching of an investigation into “structural racism” at the school.
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that black VMI cadets and alumni have been experienced racist incidents including lynching threats and a professor “reminiscing in class about her father’s Ku Klux Klan membership.”
VMI said it will cooperate with the investigation even as it denied the racism charges.
“Unlike many communities who are grappling with icons of the past, VMI has direct ties to many of the historical figures that are the subject of the current unrest. Stonewall Jackson was a professor at VMI, a West Point graduate who served in combat in the Mexican War, a military genius, a staunch Christian, and yes, a Confederate General,” Peay wrote in July.
[VMI spokesman William] Wyatt wrote Thursday the VMI administration will handle “the orderly movement of the statue.” He said it would be put in an “appropriate location, perhaps the Battlefield at New Market.” Dozens of VMI cadets who fought in that 1864 battle were killed or wounded. …
“VMI, like all aspects of society, must honestly address historical inequities and be intentional about creating a better future. We care deeply about the individual experiences of all of our cadets and alumni,” John William “Bill” Boland, president of the Board of Visitors, said in a statement.
In 2015, VMI decreed that cadets no longer had to salute the Stonewall Jackson statue.
IMAGE: M girardi / Wikimedia