The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) continues to abandon its racist and bigoted past, voting to remove Stonewall Jackson’s name as the author of a quote mounted in the student barracks and engraved on class rings.
VMI’s Board of Visitors voted Saturday to remove Jackson’s name from Memorial Hall and from the front of the old barracks on campus. The board also directed a committee to determine potential new names for those spots and will hold discussions later this year on new names.
The quote, “You may be whatever you resolve to be” which was added to the interior of the barrack during the 1953-54 academic year will stay where it was painted. However Jackson’s name beneath the quote will be removed.
According to VMI, Jackson said the quote a lot and kept it in a book of inspirational quotes, but he did not author the quote. William Alcott and Rev. Joel Hawes included the quote in publications in 1834 and 1851.
VMI was under significant scrutiny last year amid allegations of racism after Black alumni discussed the racism and bigotry they experienced on campus with The Washington Post.
When the Black Lives Matter protests hit their peak last summer, students and alumni began calling for the downfall of Confederate statues and names on military bases and campuses. Those calls included the statue of Stonewall Jackson to be removed from the campus. More than 800 VMI alumni and students signed a petition to remove the statue.
VMI Superintendent General J.H. Binford Peay III initially brushed off concerns, but the calls increased and state officials called for an investigation into the school due to “a culture of ongoing structural racism.”
Peay resigned in October 2020 due to state leaders losing their confidence in him to run the school. In November Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins became the first Black superintendent in school history. In December, VMI removed the statue of Jackson that sat on campus.
Despite the strides VMI has made in the last year, the campus still has numerous memorials and tributes to the Confederacy.