For Love of Country: Black veterans join movement to rid military installations of Confederate names and symbols

By Brad Bennett,

When Daniele Anderson was a student at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, she posted flyers around the campus about Black History Month events she was organizing, but they were repeatedly torn down.

At the lunch table where they all had to sit together, her white male colleagues asked her – one of the few Black women attending the academy – why there was not a white heritage or history month.

“There were these microaggressions,” she said. “There were these things that sort of happened because people kind of thought you were there not of your own merit.”

Currently chief strategy officer at the Black Veterans Project, Daniele Anderson served aboard Navy ships for five and a half years. Anderson says removing Confederate names and symbols from military bases and installations would be a step toward racial reconciliation with Black people who served their country. Here, she is photographed with classmate Alex Kane following their graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in May 2013.

Underscoring that point, an English professor at the academy wrote a derogatory op-ed in The New York Times while she was there, disparaging students who came from military preparatory schools like the one Anderson attended. Many students at those schools – like Anderson – were Black or Latinx.

To make matters worse, the academy superintendent’s mansion was named after Franklin Buchanan, a naval commander who switched sides in the midst of the Civil War and fought for the Confederate Navy.

Today, Anderson, who served aboard Navy ships for five and a half years after graduating from the academy, is the chief strategy officer at the Black Veterans Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance research around racial disparities and inequities in the military and across the veteran landscape.

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Learn more about the current roadblocks for the Black community here.

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