VMI board votes to remove statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, appoint diversity officer

Virginia

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP/WAVY) — The Virginia Military Institute’s board unanimously voted Thursday to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson that currently stands in front of the barracks on campus.

That’s according to school spokesman William “Bill” Wyatt, who confirmed the decision in a brief email to The Associated Press.

“I am proud of the commitment by the VMI family to continue fulfilling our mission,” said J. William “Bill” Boland, President of the Board of Visitors. “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 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.” So far the case has led to 80-year-old retired Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III resigning from his role as superintendent.

Wyatt also said VMI is appointing a permanent diversity officer and a permanent diversity and inclusion committee will be established on the Board of Visitors. A search committee has also been established to replace Peay.

Other action taken by the board Thursday include the creation of a permanent diversity office, building and naming committee and diversity initiatives with a focus on gender. The board also directed the adoption of new VMI hiring practices and a diversity plan.

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