VMI board orders move of Jackson statue
The VMI Board of Visitors voted today to move the statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson moved from the front of the historic barracks.
The statue will be moved “to an appropriate location,” according to a news release from the school today, with the possible resting place for the statue being the Battlefield at New Market.
The move comes as the Lexington school has come under intense scrutiny after a Washington Post article published earlier this month that detailed threats of lynching, attacks on social media and a professor who spoke fondly of her family’s history in the Ku Klux Klan.
In the wake of the publication of the article, the office of Gov. Ralph Northam, a 1981 VMI graduate, ordered an independent, third-party review of “VMI’s culture, policies, practices and equity in disciplinary procedures,” with a goal of having that review completed to allow for any necessary legislative action in the 2021 General Assembly session.
On Monday, the long-time VMI superintendent, Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, tendered his resignation, and in his resignation letter, Peay said he had been notified by Clark Mercer, Northam’s chief of staff, that “the governor and certain legislative leaders had lost confidence” in his leadership, and had requested that he step down.
In addition to ordering the move of the Jackson statue, the VMI board voted today to create a diversity office and to establish a board diversity and inclusion committee.
The board also moved to establish a building and naming committee, create diversity initiatives to include a focus on gender, and direct the adoption of VMI hiring practices and a diversity hiring plan
“I am proud of the commitment by the VMI family to continue fulfilling our mission,” J. William “Bill” Boland, president of the Board of Visitors, said in a statement. “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.”
Story by Chris Graham