Washington and Lee University will remove Confederate flags from a campus chapel after black law students protested them, among other aspects of the campus that they say glorify Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy, reports The Roanoke Times.
The Virginia university’s president, Kenneth P. Ruscio, announced the decision in a statement released on Tuesday. The statement described the university’s “historic involvement with slavery” as “a regrettable chapter of our history,” and noted that it owned 70 to 80 slaves from 1826 to 1852, benefiting “from their enslaved labor and, in some cases, from their sale.”
The protesting group has also demanded that the university cancel classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and apologize for its historical ties to slavery, among other things. The flags, which are reproductions, will be removed, and authentic flags will be put on display in the Lee Chapel Museum. President Ruscio said the undergraduate faculty, which is in charge of the academic calendar, would have to make the decision to cancel classes.
The university is named for George Washington, who was an early benefactor, and Lee, who was its president after serving as a Confederate general during the Civil War.