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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 RuppersbergerHillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments House approves legislation to send cybersecurity resources to state, local governments Hillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations 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 TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds 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 McCarthyOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban Two Guard members removed from Biden inauguration over ties to far-right groups Army secretary knocks 'overly bureaucratic' military response procedures in wake of Capitol rioting MORE and Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump administration official Norquist sworn in as acting Pentagon chief Watch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget Biden needs to fill the leadership gaps on Day One 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.