5,000 signatures reached
To: Secretaries of Defense, Army and Navy & Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Armed Services and Appropriations Committees
Remove Confederate Names at West Point and Annapolis
Teaching leadership and educating our nation's military leaders requires a commitment to highest national ideals. As institutions that embody those ideals, U.S. military academies must be free of Confederate symbols and honors because they perpetuate racial discord and white supremacy. Tell our Congress and military leaders it is time to remove the names of Confederate leaders from buildings and other infrastructure at West Point and the Naval Academy.
Why is this important?
Since President Thomas Jefferson founded the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1802, the federal government has expanded and improved the education of military leaders. Two centuries later, however, the national declaration that "all men are created equal" remains unfulfilled. Naming academy buildings, roads, and other infrastructure for Confederate leaders at West Point and Annapolis perpetuates American inequality.
At West Point, a barracks constructed in 1962--the height of the civil rights movement--was named for Robert E. Lee. At the Naval Academy, an engineering building and the superintendent's house were named for Confederate naval leaders in 1907 and 1976, respectively. Both academies also have roads and other infrastructure named for Confederate leaders.
I recently urged West Point Superintendent LTG Darryl A. Williams, a fellow West Point graduate, to rename Lee Barracks and other infrastructure to "serve the nation’s paramount quest for a more equitable and just society under law." He wrote that "the Academy -- as a subordinate command of the Army -- will not act independently on this issue," "Confederate memorialization is an Army issue," and West Point recognizes "individuals who are a part of our history as an institution and a nation, not as representatives of a cause."
The Confederacy and its leaders, however, will always stand principally for disunity, racism, and white supremacy. Honoring Confederate leaders at military academies reveres those values over equality and liberty. It is time for the nation's self-described premier leadership development institutions to replace Confederate names so they more fully express and honor Americans' highest values.
Those values are clearly expressed through countless state and local officials who have removed Confederate statues and other divisive symbols from public spaces since the violent racist attacks in Charleston, SC in 2015 and Charlottesville, VA in 2017. State and local officials are fulfilling citizens' interests and leading an important democratic change movement where the federal government is failing.
Sign this petition to:
- tell the Defense Department and Congress to align the academies' values with your values;
- support legislation that will require and fund the removal of Confederate honors at the military academies;
- give your children better environments to learn leadership and selfless public service.