A Ku Klux Klan plaque is mounted at the entrance of the U.S. Military Academy’s science center in West Point, New York, a congressional commission has found.
A photo of the bronze marker appears in a report that was released in August by the Naming Commission, which was tasked with reviewing Department of Defense assets that commemorate the Confederacy and provide renaming or removal recommendations.
The plaque depicts a person in a hood, holding a weapon, with the words “Ku Klux Klan” beneath it. It appears on a larger piece of artwork called a triptych at the entrance to Bartlett Hall.
The U.S. Military Academy’s public affairs office said in a statement that the part of the artwork that shows the KKK member is in a small section under the panel titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.”
The artwork was dedicated in 1965 to West Point graduates who served in World War II and Korea, the statement said.
The triptych’s late sculptor, Laura Gardin Fraser, “wanted to create art that depicted ‘historical incidents or persons’ that symbolized the principled events of that time, thereby documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation’s history,” the statement continued. “West Point does not accept, condone, or promote racism, sexism, or any other biases. The Academy continues to graduate its most diverse classes ever with respect to ethnicity, gender, experience, and background.”
The commission said it had visited West Point and worked with leaders and historians to identify assets like the plaque. However, the commission said it did not have the authority to recommend the removal of the plaque as it’s not specifically a Confederate monument and thus falls out of its remit.
The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War.nThe commission noted that “there are clearly ties in the KKK to the Confederacy,” and encouraged the Defense Department to address such assets.
“The Commission encourages the Secretary of Defense to address DoD assets that highlight the KKK in Defense Memorialization processes and create a standard disposition requirement for such assets,” the report said.
Excluding the plaque, the commission identified 12 assets with Confederate name associations at West Point and three assets at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. Military Academy’s public affairs office said it had received the naming commission’s report and was reviewing its recommendations. The office said it would collaborate with the Department of the Army to implement changes once approved.