In June 2020, a group of like-minded friends and alumni began revisiting the idea of removing Robert E. Lee from the name and brand of the university as a first step toward additional positive changes to improve inclusion and diversity at the University. They formed a private Facebook group dedicated to that end. In less than a month, that group grew to more than 2,500 members. We started an Instagram page, invited current students and recent alumni to run it, and within two weeks it had nearly 2000 followers.
And our numbers continue to grow. Hundreds more like-minded alumni are not on social media, so we have launched this website as a gathering place.
We have all come to this position via different paths. Our members had wide varieties of experiences on campus. Some were ostracized, or were excluded altogether, while others were participants in the ostracism. Some were targets of racist behavior, while others enabled it by looking the other way. We share stories of our experiences as a way to promote community. Some need to be seen and heard. Some need to begin a process of making amends.
The most important thing is that we are here now, and we are working together towards a common goal.
We are dedicated to changing the name of the University. Specifically, we are focused on removing Lee. Changing the name, however, is not an end unto itself, but it is a strategic step that we believe will accelerate the pace of positive change for existing and planned initiatives focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Many of these initiatives are already in the Strategic Plan endorsed by the Board of Trustees.
We have been setting the table. Look through the website to see the letters that we have written to President Dudley and the Board of Trustees. Read our personal stories. Check out how the press is covering our cause. We are beginning to have conversations with trustees based on existing relationships. Soon, we will have a group letter to the board, which we hope you will sign.
If you aren’t sure about all of this, we get it. We will not attempt to convince you. But we have provided, and will continue to expand, reading lists related to Lee, the university, and anti-racism work in general. We encourage you to read, ask questions, and be open to considering whether things you had accepted as conventional wisdom are facts or myths, lies, and legends.
Whenever you are ready, we welcome you aboard.