VMI Will Not Remove Confederate Names and Monuments

The Virginia Military Institute said it will not remove Confederate monuments from its campus or the names of Confederate leaders from some of the institutions buildings, the Hill reports.

What We Know:

  • Following the death of George Floyd, the issue of racial inequality has forced numerous universities to change the campus landscape in an effort to root out their racist history. Unlike schools such as Clemson University or Washington and Lee, which voted July 6 to slash Robert E. Lee’s name, VMI has found their history to be too tangled in Confederate tradition to make any changes.
  • “We do not currently intend to remove any VMI statues or rename any VMI buildings,” Retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay, VMI’s superintendent wrote in a letter to the school’s community Wednesday. “We want to erase any hint of racism at VMI, in our communities, and in our country,” but added that the school’s past is too “intertwined with the history of Virginia and the Civil War. 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.”
  • Peay noted historical figure and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, whom the institution has erected a statue in honor of. He was a former VMI professor described by Peay as a “military genius”.
  • VMI’s decision comes as the city is situated in wrestles with their own solutions to their racist past. Just this month, Lexington City Council held meetings to discuss renaming the cemetery named after Jackson and has voted to remove signs with Jackson’s name.
  • The U.S. House and Senate passed their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Pentagon to change the names of military bases honoring Confederate leaders. The Pentagon has already banned the flying of the Confederate flag at military installations.

VMI’s move aligns with the views of President Donald Trump who has been adamant about not removing Confederate names and statues and fought against the banning of the Confederate flag.