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Ky. Supreme Court Justice Partners with Sons of Confederate Veterans on Scholarship

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Administrative Office of the Courts, via courts.ky.gov
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Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham is partnering with Murray’s Sons of Confederate Veterans camp to establish a scholarship for students of color from Calloway County and Murray high schools.

Cunningham is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Fort Hieman Camp.  He says the scholarship is an attempt to rehabilitate the organization’s image and distance it from discrimination against African Americans. Cunningham insists the group is focused on preserving history and is not racist.

“Perception everybody has because of the Confederate flag and everything is that it was about slavery and their organization is about race and it’s really not, but they have that to contend with," Cunningham said. "So I’ve advised them that they’re going to have to be a little proactive on this and dispel that notion.”

Cunningham, who has served on the state Supreme Court since 2006, said that recent attempts to remove Confederate monuments from state property are “an offense against our history”.

"It's very complex," Cunningham said. "The victors write the history and, yes, slavery was definitely an issue, but the cause was states' rights. It was basically perceived by those people in the South, the seceding states, as the second war of independence and that the North had invaded the South."

Cunningham said it's up to the leaders of the Fort Hieman Camp to administer the scholarship and hopes it will build in the coming years. Calls for comment to those local SCV leaders - as well as Kentucky's state conference of the NAACP - were not immediately returned Wednesday.

UPDATE: Thursday, 1 p.m.

Kentucky Conference of the NAACP president Raoul Cunningham issued the following statement to WKMS:

"The partnering of a Kentucky Supreme Court Justice with the Sons of Confederate Veterans to establish a scholarship for students of color from Calloway County and Murray high schools, as posted on the WKMS website, is most unusual.

It appears that the establishment of the scholarship is a public relations ploy designed to improve the image of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The State NAACP concurs with the removing of the Confederate Monument on the campus of the University of Louisville and last year was successful in leading the efforts to ban Confederate symbols from being sold or displayed on state property operated by the Kentucky State Fair Board and Parks Department.   

The NAACP would request that any Kentucky Supreme Court Justice who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans would recuse themselves from hearing any case involving Confederate monuments or symbols should such a case come before the Kentucky Supreme Court."

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