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VMI addresses complaints about race relations

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:17 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Each year, on the anniversary of the battle, VMI cadets parade past the graves of cadets killed in the Civil War, fighting for the Confederacy.

A Washington Post article posted Saturday says that the New Market parade and other aspects of life at the Institute suffer from racism.

In an effort to change that, the Promaji Club, a multicultural group of cadets, asked that VMI not host Vice President Pence because of his positions, and boycotted the event when it came.

Administrators met with the club afterward, according to the Post, and plan to have continued meetings. The school says it’s part of a continuing effort.

“As a result of the current events that transpired over the summer, VMI administrators had already begun a review of nearly 30 operational elements of the Institute,” they said in a written statement to WDBJ.

“The incidents detailed in the article, several of which are many years old, had more to do with an individual’s poor judgement than they do with the culture of the Institute,” according to the school.

Last April, VMI hosted four of the five first African American cadets to attend the school, which was desegregated in 1969.

“Got things from VMI that I don’t think I could have gotten from other schools,” said Harry Gore, Class of 1972.

His experience, coming from a segregated world, was very different from the complaints today.

“The barriers went down," Gore said of his first weeks there. "There was no white or black. We were just Rats going through the same thing.”

The school said in its statement it is working toward that goal.

“The way forward is a comprehensive approach that represents a deep dive into our culture, traditions, and operations,” VMI said.

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