W&M removes items with Confederate symbols from Wren building, ceremonies

The College of William and Mary has removed a plaque with the Confederate flag, and will re-fashion a mace that also bears the symbol and seal of the Confederacy.

"It became clear to me that Confederate iconography, especially the battle flag, made many members of our community feel unwanted, even excluded," university president Taylor Reveley told the Gazette. "This is not the sort of community we strive to be and it’s so important we actually be.   It’s also important that the Civil War, which had a profound effect on the College, should be remembered, along with those from William & Mary who fought in it whether for the Confederacy or Union.  The steps we’ve taken, I believe, acknowledge both our history and our commitment to community." 

The university announced the change late Friday afternoon. Reveley made the decision after consulting with Rector Todd Stottlemyer, Board of Visitors and also senior staff, including Susan Kern, a noted historian and executive director of the historic campus, the site states.

The Confederate plaque, which was erected in 1914 by the Board of Visitors and alumni in the hall of the Wren building, recognizes William and Mary students and faculty who left the college in 1861 to fight in the Civil War for the Confederacy.

A College Mace was given to the university in 1923 as a gift, and has a ring of nine emblems, one which has a Confederate flag. The mace also carries the seal of the Confederacy. The mace is used in student ceremonies three times a year — Opening Convocation, Charter Day and during commencement ceremonies.

Since a apparently racially motivated killing in June of nine African-Americans during prayer group at a black church in Charleston, S.C., the Confederate flag and similar symbols have come under fire after pictures of the accused killer waving the flag surfaced. In the weeks after the slaying, officials in South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from a flagpole outside the statehouse to the archives.

Virginia revoked specialty license plates featuring a Confederate battle flag after a federal judge dissolved an injunction allowing the image. The Department of Motor Vehicles began recalling the and replacing existing plates in early August.

William and Mary’s plaque was moved to Special Collections at Swem Library and will be kept with other artifacts. University officials said it will be replaced with one with a complete history of William and Mary faculty, alumni and students who fought on both sides of the Civil War.

New emblems for the mace had not been chosen. For more information on the change, go to 

www.wm.edu/historiccampus/plaqueandmace.

 

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