The Virginia Military Institute has confirmed it will not remove Confederate monuments or rename any of its buildings named after Confederate leaders.
The school’s superintendent, Ret. Gen. J.H. Bindford Peay III wrote a seven-page letter addressed to the campus community reading: “We do not currently intend to remove any VMI statues or rename any VMI buildings.
“Rather, in the future we will emphasize recognition of leaders from the Institute’s second century.”
He went on to cite how the military college, founded back in 1839, had a past “intertwined with the history of Virginia and the Civil War,” though did move to reassure that racism is something “we all agree we want to erase.”
Peay’s letter referenced such names as Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, who has been a professor at the school and is honored with a statue on campus. Peay described him as a “military genius.”
The letter reads: “Throughout the years, the primary focus on honoring VMI’s history has been to celebrate principles of honor, integrity, character, courage, service, and selflessness of those associated with the Institute. It is not to in anyway condone racism, much less slavery.”
Peay said his decision had been made after countless hours of consideration regarding the backlash surrounding racial injustice and police brutality in the aftermath of the slayings of George Floyd and other black Americans.
“For weeks, I have listened carefully and contemplated your correspondence and will continue to do so,” he wrote. “Some of our African American cadets and alumni have expressed that parts of the VMI experience did not live up to the standards that it should have, and I am committed to addressing and fixing any areas of racial inequality at our school.”
Though statues related to the Confederate movement will not be removed, Peay did highlight that the school will look to emphasize further diversity amongst staff and cadets.
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