The Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) say they have rescinded their request for the resignation of Lt. Gen. (rtd.) John Rosa, president of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.
Sharpton had called for Rosa’s resignation over a scandal involving Citadel students who were pictured wearing KKK-like outfits. The students claim they were singing Christmas carols as part of a “Ghost of Christmas Past” skit, but Sharpton branded their behavior a “display of race hatred,” according to local ABC affiliate WCSC. Sharpton also complained about the Confederate flag hanging in The Citadel’s Summerall Chapel.
But NAN changed its mind after meeting with Rosa.
“After having this meeting, we feel very comfortable in saying that the National Action Network and Lt. Gen. John Rosa will come together to overcome and erase the racial stigma that has shadowed our city,” the organization said in a release. “We will come together to ensure that the dignity and respect of each citizen on the campus is upheld regardless of race, creed or gender.”
The Citadel has taken swift action against the eight cadets involved in the incident, who have been suspended until Jan. 13. The cadets will also face a hearing, where Rosa will recommend disciplinary action. Rosa has also called on Dr. Lamont Melvin, chairman of the Citadel Minority Alumni Association (CMAA,) to assist in the hearing.
“I invited Dr. Melvin to be a part of this process to provide transparency, but, more importantly, to work together to build a learning environment where all cadets, no matter their background, can thrive at The Citadel,” Rosa said in a statement.
The CMMA posted a picture of the cadets wearing pillow cases with eye hole slits to its Facebook page, demanding The Citadel take action.
“This is not the first, second or third time that racially charged events have been documented to have occurred at The Citadel,” said Melvin in a statement. “It is easy to try to isolate events of this sort to a single item or incident, which would, on its face, be a disservice to minority cadets who have and are currently attending The Citadel. This issue is much bigger. It’s a cultural issue and it must be addressed and it must end now. When racist acts occur on campus, ALL students, black and white should feel the same degree of outrage that we do.”
According to WCSC, Charleston State Rep. Wendell Gilliard also backed Rosa and said he was impressed at how quickly he handled the situation.