Naval Academy official pushes to remove names of Confederate soldiers

“There has been discussion of renaming these buildings since at least 2017,” Rep. C.A Dutch Ruppersberger, from Maryland, said in a statement, according to the AP.

Members of the U.S. Naval Academy graduating class stand to be sworn in during their commissioning and graduation ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, May 25, 2018. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
Members of the U.S. Naval Academy graduating class stand to be sworn in during their commissioning and graduation ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, May 25, 2018.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
The United States Naval Academy's chairman of the Board of Visitors said that the names of two members of the Confederate Army displayed on buildings around the academy campus should be removed, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The superintendent's residence is named after Franklin Buchanon, the first person to ever hold the position at academy - he later left to join the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. The Weapons and Systems Engineering Division, located in Maury Hall, is named after Matthew Fontaine Maury, who lead the "coast, harbor and river defenses for the Confederate Navy," and according to AP he was a specialist in naval meteorology and navigation.
“There has been discussion of renaming these buildings since at least 2017,” Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, from Maryland, said in a statement, according to the AP.
Ruppersberger, who was was recently elected chair of the academy's Board of Visitors, asserted that the Pentagon should remove all mention of Confederate soldiers from United States military bases.
“As the new Chairman, the time for discussion is over. It’s time for action. 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 said.
Ruppersberger intends to bring up the issue at the next board meeting.
“This isn’t about erasing history,” he added. “We simply 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 continued, according to the AP. “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 Republican-led US Senate Armed Services Committee voted to require the Department of Defense to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, setting up a clash with President Donald Trump, who opposes that change and promised a veto.
The committee approved the measure, proposed by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, as an amendment to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Pentagon, announced on Thursday.
The committee, with 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats, adopted the amendment by voice vote, which allowed individual members to avoid recording their choice.
However, the panel's Republican chairman, Senator Jim Inhofe, expressed concern, telling reporters on a conference call he wanted local input on decisions on base names.
Besides requiring that bases stop honoring Confederate generals within three years, the legislation requires the Pentagon to change the names of other assets - such as streets, aircraft and ships - named for Confederate officers or honoring the Confederacy.
Similar efforts to change the names have stalled before, but Americans have become more conscious about race after a series of high-profile killings of African Americans, including that of George Floyd, who died on May 25 as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
As demonstrations have swept the country, cities have removed Confederate statues and institutions have barred displays of the Confederate flag, saying they do not want to honor those who fought to continue enslaving black Americans.
There is a separate movement in Congress, led by Democrats, to remove statues of Confederate generals and leaders from the US Capitol.

Zachary Keyser and Reuters contributed to this report.