The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) pledged Tuesday not to take down its Confederate statues, but also stated it will add context to them.
VMI made the decision at a board of visitors meeting, where J.H. Binford Peay III defended the statues and stated “there’s no place for discrimination” at the school, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“We are a different school,” said Peay to the board. “And we build on the strengths of our traditions, the right traditions, the right statues, the right…ceremonies that we have to make our graduates stronger and better for a nation that needs to move to the future and advance in a right way. That’s my thinking, ladies and gentlemen. And I don’t think I’m being politically correct.”
John William Boland, president of VMI’s board of visitors, said he and the rest of the board agreed with Peay. The president suggested creating a plaque to commemorate VMI cadets who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
“We choose not to honor their weaknesses, but to recognize their strengths,” said a statement by the board regarding individuals who make up VMI’s history and obtained by Richmond Times-Dispatch.
VMI previously abandoned its battle flags, cadet salutes to a Stonewall Jackson statue, and the playing of Confederate-themed song “Dixie.”
The military college’s decision stands in contrast to that of other cities and schools, which have largely opted to take down the statues or have failed to decry vandalism of Confederate memorials. (RELATED: New Orleans Uproots Third Confederate Statue In Early Morning Operation)
“As I have said before, I believe local communities, including the VMI community, need to make these decisions for themselves,” said Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “While I personally think that these statues belong in a museum with appropriate historical context, I respect the decision of the institute.”
Ed Gillespie, his Republican rival, wants decisions regarding the monuments to be made locally, but personally supports preserving the statues while adding context.
“VMI has no opinion on what cities and towns across the state or nation do, nor do we have an opinion on what other colleges should do,” said Stewart D. MacInnis, the school’s director of communications and marketing, to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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