Sad news from Lexington today as the Northam-appointed VMI board of visitors has voted to remove the statue of General Stonewall Jackson from the grounds of the Virginia Military Institute.
From the press statement:
The VMI Board of Visitors today took bold and unanimous action to move VMI forward. The Board ordered the statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson moved from the front of the historic barracks to an appropriate location, perhaps the Battlefield at New Market. The VMI administration will handle the orderly movement of the statue. Additionally, a permanent diversity officer will be appointed at VMI and a permanent diversity and inclusion committee will be established on the Board of Visitors. The Board has also established a search committee which will be led by board member Gene Scott to identify VMI’s next Superintendent. In other action the Board:
- Created a permanent diversity office
- Established a building and naming committee
- Created diversity initiatives to include a focus on gender
- Directed the adoption of VMI hiring practices and a diversity hiring plan
J. William “Bill” Boland, President of the Board of Visitors stated, “I am proud of the commitment by the VMI family to continue fulfilling our mission. 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. Our mission is just as important today, and tomorrow, as it has been for 181 years.”
The response from VMI alumni has ranged from outrage to shocked silence. More from The Hill:
The statue of Jackson has stood in front of student barracks for years, and up until a few years ago, students were mandated to salute the statue when passing. Black alumni advocated for the statue to be removed this year through a petition, which the administration at first rejected.
VMI’s superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III dismissed the calls to remove Confederate monuments and rename buildings that are currently named after Confederate leaders over the summer.
Superintendent Peay abruptly resigned this week at the insistence of Governor Northam in a terse but respectful one page letter.