A crane lifted the bronze statue from its pedestal ahead of its relocation to a Civil War museum.
In a statement, Interim Superintendent retired Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins acknowledged Jackson’s ties to Lexington and to the institute but said that the time for change had come.
“VMI does not define itself by this statue and that is why this move is appropriate. We are defined by our unique system of education and the quality and character of the graduates the Institute produces,” Wins, an African American VMI graduate, said in a statement.
In his statement, Wins said the school “has a long history of receiving young men and women from all walks of life, and instilling in them the values and skills necessary to be leaders of character who value service above self.
“While those values will endure, VMI is no stranger to change. Time and again over the past 181 years, the Institute has adapted and changed. Each time, we have become a better, stronger institution. Though change can sometimes be difficult, it is time for our beloved Institution to move forward, to strengthen our unique system of education and training, and grow the leaders of tomorrow.”
Based in Lexington, VMI is a public military college that has an enrollment of about 1,700 students. Last year, VMI counted 102 Black students among its enrollment — about 6% of the student body.
Where the statue is going
The statue will be installed in the roundabout in front of the museum, which belongs to VMI, by summer or fall of 2021.
VMI historian Col. Keith Gibson said in a statement the new location has a particular historical context for Jackson.
“Though Jackson did not fight in the Battle of New Market, the Luray Gap of the Massanutten Mountain, which can be seen from the battlefield, played a strategic role in concealing his army’s movements against Union troops,” he said. “How fitting it is for the statue of Stonewall Jackson to look out over the Luray Gap which played such an important part of his Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862.”