Robert E. Lee is giving up his flag one more time in the South. Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., has acceded to the demands of a group of law students and will remove Confederate flags that adorn Lee Chapel on the campus, reports the Roanoke Times. In an email to students and faculty, university President Kenneth Ruscio said that the replica flags were there for historical purposes only but that they would be taken down. He added that the school "will continue to study its historic involvement with slavery," which he called a "regrettable chapter of our history."
The law students found the presence of the flag especially vexing because W&L students take an honor-code pledge in the chapel. Lee served as president of what was then known as Washington College beginning in 1865, and the school added his name after he died. Both he and the school owned slaves at one point. Ruscio defended Lee as an "imperfect person living in imperfect times" and likened his situation to that of slave-owner Thomas Jefferson. At Above the Law, Elie Mystal applauds the black law students who pushed for the change. W&L could have continued to ignore its own history, he writes. "The only thing that will stop them from ignoring it is for good people to demand better." (Read more Robert E. Lee stories.)