The First African American Leader of the Virginia Military Institute

Retired Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins will serve as interim superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. He will be the first African American leader of the Virginia Military Institute.

In October, Virginia governor Ralph Northam sent a letter to the chair of the board of visitor that said: I have “deep concerns about the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism at the school. Black cadets at VMI have long faced repeated instances of racism on campus, including horrifying new revelations of threats about lynching, vicious attacks on social media, and even a professor who spoke fondly of her family’s history in the Ku Klux Klan.” J.H. Binford Peay III, who had served as superintendent for the past 17 years, resigned shortly thereafter.

The Virginia Military Institute was founded in 1839 and trained many of the officers of the Confederate Army. The Institute was shelled and burned on June 12, 1864, by Union forces. Today VMI enrolls about 1,700 cadets. African Americans are 6 percent of the student body, according to the latest data reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

Maj. Gen. Wins is a 34-year veteran of the U.S. Army and a 1985 graduate of the Institute. He later earned an master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the National War College, and a master’s degree in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

During his time as a cadet at VMI, Wins was a standout basketball player who finished his basketball career as one of the top five scorers in school history. In 1985, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and was commissioned into the Army as a field artillery officer.

Maj. Gen. Wins went on to a stellar 34-year career in the Army. In his final command, Maj. Gen. Wins was the first Commanding General of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command.

“I am excited to return to VMI, a place that had an extraordinary impact on me as a leader and person,” said Wins. “Now, more than ever, the lessons and values of VMI are needed in the world, and I am humbled to be a part of making that happen. I most look forward to leading the cadets and ensuring we have a safe and successful conclusion to the academic year, hit the ground running during the spring sports season, and continue fulfilling our vital mission of producing educated and honorable men and women.”

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  1. This appointment is “White supremacy textbook 101″ in how to make an institution appear as if it’s going to extract racism permanently. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s be clear. Ret. MG Wins was hired for mere optics and symbolism in order to placate the elected officials in the Confederate Commomwealth. What I find rather interesting is that Ret. MG Wins somehow falled to minimally mention what course of action he will take in order to remove the 181 years of academic, administrative and institutional racism. I think so-called Black America had enough of the ” First Black in High Places” narrative. In other words, VMI have a very high probability of literally remaining the same.

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