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Southern Universities Attack Their Own Heritage

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Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Inside Higher Ed. We reprint in part here. 

Debate over Confederate symbols continues to intensify in Southern states, with public universities in the middle of the controversy in South Carolina, Texas and Mississippi. University leaders are speaking out against the use of Confederate symbols — although not always fast enough to satisfy some students and civil rights leaders.

Citadel Board Seeks to Move Flag

Late Tuesday, the board of the Citadel voted to ask the South Carolina General Assembly to amend a state law so that university can remove a Confederate naval flag (such as the one at right) from a place of honor in the chapel. A law enacted in 2000, the South Carolina Heritage Act, states that “any monument, marker, memorial, school or street erected or named in honor of the Confederacy or the civil rights movement located on any municipal, county or state property shall not be removed, changed or renamed without the enactment of a joint resolution by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the General Assembly approving same.”

Until the Citadel board voted, 9-3, to ask that the law be amended, the university had refused to endorse any move of the flag, as some civil rights leaders have sought. The Citadel’s historic ties to the Confederacy are significant; Citadel officers helped attack Fort Sumter.

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