Democratic Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Chair of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors, said Thursday that buildings on campus featuring Confederate naval officers should be renamed.
“There has been discussion of renaming these buildings since at least 2017,” the congressman said in a press release. “As the new Chairman, the time for discussion is over. It’s time for action. Midshipmen who have earned the privilege to study in one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions should not have to walk around campus and see buildings named for men who fought to uphold slavery and promote white supremacy.”
Two buildings on campus are named after Confederate fighters, according to Ruppersberger’s website. The Academy superintendent’s residence is named after Franklin Buchanan, and the Weapons and Systems Engineering Division is located in a building named after Matthew Fontaine Maury. (RELATED: Multiple NAACP Branches Demand Resignation Of Michigan State Senator Who Wore Confederate Flag Face Mask)
“We are working hard to attract minority applicants to our service academies and all of our service branches,” Ruppersberger added. “We must send a strong and unequivocal message to all potential minority applicants that we stand united in opposing the glorification of leaders who defended slavery.”
As one of my first acts as the new @navalacademy Board Chair, I’m calling for removal of Confederate names from 2 campus buildings. We must send a clear message to all midshipmen + potential applicants that we oppose glorifying those who defended slavery. https://t.co/MqBGR4NUOO
— Dutch Ruppersberger (@Call_Me_Dutch) June 11, 2020
“This isn’t about erasing history. We simply shouldn’t lift up traitors who fought against American values like equality and tolerance,” he said.
The role of the Naval Academy Board of Visitors “is to inquire into the state of morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the academy which the Board decides to consider,” according to their website.
The Board of Visitors consists of 15 members appointed by the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Armed Services Committee, or the House Armed Services Committee.
Ruppersberger has served on the board since 2009 and was unanimously elected as chairman by the other board members June 1.
The congressman joins a growing group of people calling for the removal of the Confederate flag and Confederate statues amidst heightened racial tensions. The death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
NASCAR announced Wednesday that they would be banning the Confederate flag from their events, prompting race car driver Ray Ciccareli to quit.
Mississippi began working on legislation to remove the Confederate symbol from their state flag following recent protests at their state capital, despite residents voting down the initiative in 2001.