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Citadel leaders confront blackface images in past yearbooks

The Citadel offensive images to be removed. (Provided/NAN)

In the wake of controversial photos that surfaced of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood, The Citadel is confronting racially offensive photos in its own past yearbooks.

"We acknowledge that in the past we do have images that are offensive and we are very transparent about those. We don't want to offend,” said Colonel John L. Dorrian, vice president of communications and marketing with The Citadel during a press conference held by a non-profit civil rights organization on Monday. “We want to make sure people understand that those images have nothing to do what cadet life is all about now at The Citadel."

Last week, five "disturbing" photos of racially insensitive images from past yearbooks were sent to the state chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), according to Elder James Johnson with NAN.

One of the images included cadets, according to Johnson.

Johnson held the press conference stating that he met with the president of The Citadel about the images.

Flanked by supporters, including one holding a "Black Lives Matter" sign, Johnson said it was "a very good meeting."

Johnson says the president and NAN decided the photos should be used as a "teachable moment" for cadets. Johnson said the press conference was not meant to embarrass The Citadel.

"We discussed about taking out those yearbooks and those pictures out of the yearbooks. And he said that's what he would do. He would search the library and search for all those offenses of black folks, and those pictures and remove it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he and The Citadel talked about better recruiting of black students and discussed scholarships offered each year for minority cadets.

Johnson also says Citadel is willing to work with NAN to help with recruiting.

It's not the first time The Citadel has grappled with offensive images.

Officials at The Citadel said cadets were sent a letter from the president of The Citadel about offensive images following Northam’s yearbook photos that were made public on Feb. 1.

NAN was founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton in 1991.



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