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First Black Man To Head Virginia Military Institute Amid Racism Probe

Cedric T. Wins will serve as the interim leader.

Amid a scathing racism investigation, the embattled Virginia Military Institute on Friday (Nov. 13) announced the interim appointment of a Black male leader for the first time in its 181-year history. 

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, 57, will serve as interim until the board appoints a permanent chief to run the nation’s oldest state-funded military college in Lexington City, Virginia, The Washington Post reports. 

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Wins, who graduated from the school in 1985, replaces its longtime superintendent, retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, who stepped down after Black cadets revealed systemic racism to The Post. The revelations resulted in an independent investigation ordered by the state’s governor, who decried “the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism” at VMI, which received $19 million from the state in fiscal 2020, writes the news outlet.

One Black student alleges that a business professor last year reminisced about her father’s Ku Klux Klan membership, while others recall being the target of racist comments on an anonymous social media app called Jodel, the report says.

Last month, the school finally removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who taught at VMI before helping to lead the Confederate Army, the report notes.

“It is my commitment to you,”Wins wrote in an email to VMI alumni Friday, “that we will change what is necessary and safeguard what is necessary to preserve.”

 

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