Great Britain

VMI to remove statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson

The Virginia Military Institute’s board voted Thursday to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson that currently stands in front of the barracks on campus, a school spokesman said.

Spokesman William “Bill” Wyatt confirmed the decision in a brief email to The Associated Press. The meeting of the Board of Visitors was still underway mid-afternoon Thursday, and Wyatt said he would have a statement about the decision when it concludes.

The statue and other associations with the Confederacy recently have generated discussion at the nation's oldest state-supported military college, which is facing an outside investigation into what Virginia officials have characterized as a culture of "structural racism."

VMI's superintendent, retired Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, resigned Monday, a week after the investigation was announced on the heels of a story in The Washington Post that described Black cadets and alumni facing “relentless racism.”

Officials at the school have said they will cooperate with an investigation, but denied the allegation that the institution has systemic racial problems.

Amid a wave of Confederate monument removals over the summer sparked by the death of George Floyd, Peay announced the college would change some of its longstanding traditions but would not be removing Confederate statues, including the Jackson statue that until a few years ago cadets had to salute.

“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.

The Post story described students of color facing incidents such as lynching threats and a white professor reminiscing in class about her father’s Ku Klux Klan membership.

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