A plaque with the words "Ku Klux Klan" written below a hooded figure holding what appears to be a rifle currently hangs on a building at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.

The marker referencing one of the country's most infamous hate groups is garnering attention due to a special commission formed to look into connections to the Confederacy at U.S. military bases and other properties.

Last year, the Naming Commission was charged with surveying Defense Department assets for ties to the Confederacy and making recommendations on how to rename or remove the references.

In a report released on Monday, the commission highlighted the presence of the Ku Klux Klan mounted marker at the entrance to Bartlett Hall, a science building at West Point, the U.S. Army's elite training school.

Though it noted that there are "clearly ties" between the KKK and the Confederacy, the plaque fell outside of its specific remit created by Congress, the commission said.

"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.

The KKK was formed in 1865 by six Confederate veterans of the Civil War and initially targeted Black people in the postwar South before also turning its hateful agenda against Jews, Catholics and others.

West Point did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.

Why the U.S. government is reviewing names tied to the Confederacy

Though the commission concluded that the KKK plaque was beyond its purview, the eight-member body found other assets linked to the Confederacy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

They included barracks, a housing area and a child development center at West Point named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as the superintendent's quarters and a road at the Naval Academy named after Confederate Adm. Franklin Buchanan, to name just a few.

Notably, the commission has made recommendations for renaming nine Army bases across the South with names tied to Confederate figures.

For example, Louisiana's Fort Polk would be renamed Fort Johnson in honor of William Henry Johnson, a Black soldier renowned for his heroics in World War I.

The commission also suggested renaming Fort Hood in Texas as Fort Cavazos after Richard E. Cavazos, the first Hispanic American to become a four-star general in the Army.

Early last year, Congress overrode President Trump's veto and passed a defense spending bill that included a provision requiring the renaming of military assets with names linked to the Confederacy. It followed the racial justice protests that erupted across the country in the summer of 2020.

The secretary of defense has the final say on renaming bases and other assets, and a plan is expected to be implemented by Jan. 1, 2024, according to the commission.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.