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How long will Gordon be Gordon?

The administration at Gordon State College and alumni of Gordon Military College and its high school arm are bracing for controversy after the University System of Georgia appointed a committee to evaluate the names of colleges, buildings and other facilities on its campuses last week. The move was made in the wake of racial unrest in areas of the country. The committee was formed after detractors called for a name change at the Henry Grady School of Journalism at UGA, claiming Grady, a gifted orator, journalist and publisher of The Atlanta Constitution, was a racist. Gordon will surely be in the sights of the committee in that it is named for former governor John B. Gordon. Battle-hardened and wounded multiple times during the Civil War, Gordon rose to the rank of General in the Confederate army. He was also rumored to be involved in the early formation of the Ku Klux Klan – an allegation he repeatedly denied. A statue of Gen. Gordon on horseback presides over a large portion of the grounds at the state capitol in Atlanta. It, too, is in the crosshairs of protestors who many feel are seeking to revise history to suit their own purposes. ’Removing the name of Gen. John B. Gordon from the name of our college, which is the oldest in the system except for the University of Georgia, would be wrong. When a group of people try to revise history, they are denying history. We cannot deny slavery or the Civil War but we can and will continue to learn from it,’ Barnesville mayor Peter Banks said. When the bloom came off the rose of military colleges during the Vietnam War era, Gordon was struggling mightily financially. Banks and the late Quimby Melton Jr. successfully led an effort to have the university system take it over. The USG review committee is led by chairwoman Marion Fedrick, president of Albany State University. The other members are Michael Patrick, who heads up marketing and strategic growth at Chick-fil-A; Herbert Phipps, a retired state court of appeals judge; Neal J. Quirk, an attorney and executive vice president of the UGA Foundation; and Dr. Sally Wallace, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. It is still early in the process and unclear at present how the committee will function and receive input but the review process is underway. ’We understand that the USG advisory group is in the initial phase of its work. We recognize that this is a complex issue which will require thoughtful reflection. We look forward to the opportunity for dialogue and will continue our mission to educate students,’ GSC president Kirk Nooks said in a prepared statement.

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