Tackles Equity and Inclusion on Campus Hear how VMI’s recent attempts to reckon with its history will or will not change the legacy of the Confederacy on campus
RICHMOND — Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped the third episode in the fourth season of its acclaimed podcast, Sounds Like Hate. The second installment of “Wake-Up Call” leads award-winning co-hosts Jamila Paksima and to confirm that not all of the changes made at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) are welcomed.
Episode two begins at the start of the 2021–2022 academic year, where our co-hosts chronicle the efforts of the newly appointed first Black Superintendent at VMI Gen. Cedric Wins and the school's first Chief Diversity Officer, Director, Lt. Col. Jamica Love. We also hear from current students, including one who has analyzed VMI’s own discipline data dating back six years on equity and bias in the demerit system.
“To be Black and get an education at VMI is to live and study in a place that worships the losing side of a war that was fought to keep your ancestors enslaved,” says Latty. “I hope that Gen. Wins and his team can make VMI a welcome environment for students of all colors. Based on the Institute's past and their reverence for the Confederacy, real change at the Institute will be no easy task.”
As season four concludes, we learn about the continued efforts of powerful VMI alumni who formed a political action committee (PAC) called the Spirit of VMI. The PAC attempts to influence the future of the Institute by supporting Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin alongside other elected officials who have influence over VMI.
“‘Wake-Up Call’ brings to life many of the themes and issues we discuss in the Third Edition of our Whose Heritage? report, which maps and tracks data on Confederate memorials in order to help communities identify and remove these symbols of hate and white supremacy. Thanks to the efforts of brave student activists and alumni, VMI has made progress in removing these offensive symbols. But too many Confederate memorials still remain on campus. More worrisome, the school’s progress is being threatened by the Spirit of VMI. Tune in to find out more about how newly appointed Black administrators grapple with the need to address racial justice by removing symbols venerating white supremacy and the Lost Cause from campus which will require pushing back against powerful conservative figures at VMI and in Virginia,” said Susan Corke, Director of Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Earlier this year, the SPLC released the third edition of its Whose Heritage? report, data, and map, which tracks public symbols of the Confederacy across the United States. The report shows that more than 2,000 Confederate memorials are still publicly present in the U.S. and over 700 of those are monuments.