Citadel graduate creates racist ‘fake news’ release from the school

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough)

Caitlin Byrd

The State (Columbia, S.C.)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Citadel on Thursday forcefully condemned one of its own graduates, but stopped short of naming them, after discovering they created and shared a racist post on social media that was made to look like an official statement from the military college just days into Black History Month.

The public college in Charleston called the post “an abhorrent fake news release” that did not reflect the school’s core values of honor, duty and respect.

“The Citadel will not sit idly by and tolerate comments of this nature,” the South Carolina military college said in a statement.

The since-deleted social media post first appeared in a private Facebook group on Wednesday, but screenshots of it have surfaced and are circulating online. The Facebook post, which was masquerading as a legitimate news release from the school, suggested that The Citadel was installing a segregated water fountain to celebrate Black History Month.

The post has prompted outcry from Citadel alumni, especially Black graduates of the school, at a time of year when the military college has been celebrating the racial progress it has made since its founding in 1842.

The school was established to respond to a planned slave uprising. In 1861, it was Citadel cadets who fired the first shots at Fort Sumter to begin the Civil War.

The offensive social media post went to great lengths to look like a legitimate news release. The fabricated post used the banner and logo that appears on top of the school’s website and mirrored the text and formatting used by The Citadel in its announcements.

The lookalike write-up also included made-up quotes from Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters, along with Shawn Edwards, The Citadel’s chief inclusive excellence officer, and Bruce Alexander, a 1982 graduate of The Citadel and past president of The Citadel African American Alumni Association.

The falsified post included a doctored photograph of two water fountains, side by side. Above the fountain on the left is a plaque that reads, “African American Cadets Only.”

The offensive post initially appeared in a private Facebook group called ” The Citadel ‘Old Corps.'” The group describes itself as a group for Citadel graduates who began attending the school before 1996 and graduated before 2000.

“We are NOT ‘The Citadel Diverse and Progressive Corps,'” the group proclaims in its description. It goes on to say that it does not support “fundamental changes of any aspect to our beloved Alma Mater.”

“We support traditional American values and will not tolerate anti-American rhetoric, nor will we tolerate anti-Southern rhetoric,” the group writes. “We are not racists, nor do we support racism of any kind. Therefore, we will not tolerate individuals who continue to falsely accuse us of such atrocities that are far removed from our more recent and current culture.”

When reached for additional comment about the post and the alumnus behind it, school officials referred The State to back to The Citadel’s public statement on the matter.

“While the post appeared in a private Facebook group and has since been deleted, it is important to publicly condemn these comments in the strongest possible terms, as they are completely opposed to our core values — Honor, Duty and Respect,” the school’s statement said. “Further, every quote included in the fake post was forged. The slanderous statements do not reflect the actual views of The Citadel or its leadership.”

The military college in recent years has been making a concerted effort to more accurately tell it story and to honor the contributions of its Black cadets.

Black cadets are also telling their stories, too. Last year, Ken Gordon, a 1988 graduate of The Citadel, published his novel, “Bad Dogs: A Black Cadet in Dixie.” It is the first known work — fiction or otherwise — written by a Black cadet about their Citadel experience.

In November, the school unveiled a large portrait of Charles Foster and Joseph Shine, The Citadel’s first two African American cadets. The Citadel’s Corps of Cadets also plans to honor Foster’s legacy during its dress parade on Friday, along with the first seven Black women graduates of The Citadel, who all graduated from the public military school in 2002.

This story was originally published February 3, 2022 2:50 PM.

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