West Point, the United States Military Academy, has a plaque with the name Ku Klux Klan writing and a hooded figure displayed at the entrance to Bartlett Hall, the science center on the campus of the military academy, according to a new report from the Congress Naming Commission.
The Commission, which was created by Congress to provide recommendations to the Department of Defense on renaming Confederate markers on U.S. military installations, released their second of three final reports to Congress on Monday.
The report focused on Confederate markers at both West Point in New York and the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
The commission said the plaque “is not within” its purview, as the commission is only responsible for identifying and providing recommendations on new names for Confederate markers at military installations.
The Ku Klux Klan was created after the Civil War by Confederate veterans. The group is still active and is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The commission urged the Secretary of Defense “to address DoD assets that highlight the KKK” and “create a standard disposition requirement for those assets,” the report said.
“The marker is not within the jurisdiction of the Commission; however, there are clearly ties between the KKK and the Confederacy,” the report said.
The marker that includes the words Ku Klux Klan is part of a larger artwork, called the Triptych, that appears at the entrance to Barrett Hall, the campus science building. The triptych “references the history of the United States as told in bronze relief” and has three panels, which each measure 11 feet by 5 feet, the Academy’s public affairs office said in a statement.
The part of the artwork that shows the Ku Klux Klan member is in a “small section” on the second panel titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” The artwork, dedicated in 1965, was “originally dedicated to West Point graduates who served in World War II and Korea,” the statement added.
According to the Academy’s public affairs office, the triptych’s late sculptor, Laura Gardin Fraser, “wanted to create art depicting ‘historical incidents or persons’ that symbolized the principle events of that time, thereby documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation’s history. ”
“West Point does not condone, condone or promote racism, sexism or any other bias. The Academy continues to graduate its most diverse classes with respect to ethnicity, gender, experience and background,” the public affairs office said in the statement.
The U.S. Military Academy’s public affairs office acknowledged receiving the nominating commission’s report and said it was “reviewing the recommendations,” in an earlier statement Wednesday.
“We are reviewing the recommendations and will work with the Department of the Army to implement the changes, once approved,” the statement said. “West Point’s mission is to develop leaders of character who internalize the values of the Army, the ideals of duty, honor, country and the ethos of the Army. As a values-based institution, we are fully committed to creating an environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Renaming bases with Confederate nicknames was a years-long process. It first became a hot political issue in the final months of the Trump administration, when then-President Donald Trump lambasted the idea, accusing others of wanting to “throw those names away”.
The commission was created in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which Trump vetoed. In the final days of his administration, Congress cast its first and only veto during his tenure, approving the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Outside of the KKK plaque, the commission identified 12 assets with Confederate name associations who should be renamed to West Point and three assets to the US Naval Academy.
This story was updated with additional information on Wednesday.