Earlier this month, the Virginia Military Institute removed the statue of General “Stonewall” Jackson following allegations from black cadets of racism at the school.

The statue, sculpted by VMI graduate Moses Ezekiel and unveiled in 1912, has long been the spiritual centerpiece of the 181-year-old school. Jackson taught physics at VMI before fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The status had enjoyed a prominent home in the middle of campus in front of the student barracks. Up until a few years ago, first-year cadets were required to salute the statue when they passed by.

VMI — the nation’s oldest state-supported military college — had long resisted calls to remove Jackson from his perch.

But in late October, the institution’s board voted to remove the Stonewall Jackson statue after The Washington Post reported on students’ allegations of an “atmosphere of hostility and cultural insensitivity” at the school.

The statue had been a focus of controversy for years. Still, the school had committed to keeping it in place as recently as July 2020, when VMI’s longtime superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III said written in a statement, “We cannot eliminate our history nor do we desire to do so. Instead, we desire to build upon our past and will do our part to continue to build a strong Institute.”

Stonewall Jackson Statue and Barracks - Picture of Virginia Military Institute, Lexington - Tripadvisor

Kaleb Tucker graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in May. According to a recent article, “he can’t stop thinking about the indignities he endured as a black man on the campus of the country’s oldest state-supported military college.”

Tucker reported that it was saluting the statue that bothered him most. Despite doing away with the custom several years ago, the statue remained in place, even as other monuments of Confederate soldiers were being taken down in Virginia and elsewhere in the country.