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Black Students Successfully Lobby to Have Confederate Flags Removed From Campus

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Black Student Protesters Force Historic Virginia College to Remove Confederate Flags.


Reported by April V. Taylor

According to the Atlanta BlackStar, black student protestors have successfully lobbied Washington and Lee University, the country’s ninth oldest university, to remove Confederate flags from its campus.  The school released a public apology through President Kenneth Ruscio earlier this week apologizing for slavery’s “regrettable” role in the school’s history and announcing the removal of the Confederate flag from Lee Chapel, a major meeting place on the campus.  The flags reportedly hung next to a memorial for Robert E. Lee, a general in the Confederate Army.

The school reportedly owned 70 and 80 slaves in 1826 when it was known as Washington College.  It had previously claimed that the flags on campus were an acknowledgement of history and not necessarily a symbol of racism or support for slavery.  Black students make up a little more than 3 percent of the student population. A group of black law students at the university decided to form a group referred to as “the committee.”  The group wrote up a list of demands and delivered them to the Board of Trustees.  The move has sparked a larger conversation about race on the campus.

Regarding the apology and removal of the flag, Ruscio stated, “We acknowledge that this was a regrettable chapter in our history, and we must confront and try to understand this chapter.  Acknowledging that historical record – and acknowledging the contributions of those individuals – will require coming to terms with a part of our past that we wish had been different, but that we cannot ignore.”  Leader of “the committee,” Brandon Hicks stated, “It’s about creating a climate on campus that everyone feels welcome.  These are huge steps.  We are ecstatic.”

Not all students have responded positively to the move.  Members of the group Sons of Confederate Veterans released a statement regarding their feelings that the removal of the flags was disrespectful to the school’s history.  Brandon Dorsey, a commander of the unit of the group, states “It’s a disgrace for them to besmirch Lee’s military honor.  As far as I’m concerned, they should go ahead and remove his name from the school.  I don’t think they’re worthy of his name.”