Naval Academy board chair calls for Confederate names to be removed from school

Naval Academy board chair calls for Confederate names to be removed from school

The names of two Confederate naval officers should be removed from campus buildings at the U.S. Naval Academy, the school’s Board of Visitors chairman said Thursday.

Rep. Dutch RuppersbergerCharles (Dutch) Albert RuppersbergerLawmakers introduce legislation to establish national cybersecurity director OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Naval Academy board chair calls for Confederate names to be removed from school MORE (D-Md.) said the Pentagon should consider removing Confederate names from all military bases as Americans nationwide protest and call for an end to racial inequality and police brutality.

“There has been discussion of renaming these buildings since at least 2017,” Ruppersberger said in a statement posted to his congressional website.

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“As the new Chairman, the time for discussion is over. It’s time for action," he said. "Midshipmen who have earned the privilege to study in one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions should not have to walk around campus and see buildings named for men who fought to uphold slavery and promote white supremacy.”

Ruppersberger’s call for change comes less than 24 hours after President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE said he would “not even consider” renaming Army bases that are named after Confederate officers.

"These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom," Trump tweeted.

"Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations," he added.

Two days prior, an Army spokesperson had said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyMaryland GOP governor: Fauci has 'never let me' down Trump mocks push to rename Fort Bragg: 'We're going to name it after the Rev. Al Sharpton?' Pentagon mulling plan to ban Confederate flag without mentioning it by name: report MORE and Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response Democrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Trump's revenge — pulling troops from Germany — will be costly MORE were “open” to renaming the 10 bases that are all based in Southern states: Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.

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The issue also has been taken up in Congress, with the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approving an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to rename bases and other assets that are named after Confederate military leaders.

At the Naval Academy, the superintendent’s residence is named after Franklin Buchanan, the institution’s first superintendent who left to join the Confederate Navy at the start of the Civil War. And the school’s Weapons and Systems Engineering division is housed in Maury Hall, named after Matthew Fontaine Maury, the head of coast, harbor and river defenses for the Confederate Navy.

Ruppersberger said he would present the issue at the board’s next meeting and will also offer an amendment to the House’s annual military spending bill, requiring the school to rename the two buildings. 

Such a move would not be about erasing history, he explained, rather, the country “shouldn’t lift up traitors who fought against American values like equality and tolerance.”

“We are working hard to attract minority applicants to our service academies and all of our service branches,” Ruppersberger said. “We must send a strong and unequivocal message to all potential minority applicants that we stand united in opposing the glorification of leaders who defended slavery.” 

The fight over renaming military assets comes amid nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died when a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. The officer has since been fired and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.