09:04, March 05 62 0 abajournal.com

2019-03-05 09:04:05
Federal judge regrets appearing in group frat photo with Confederate flag

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Photo by M-SUR/Shutterstock.com.

U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney is among the high-profile figures who posed in group fraternity photos with a Confederate flag for their college yearbooks.

Whitney, who is chief judge of the Western District of North Carolina, posed in the photo for his 1982 yearbook at Wake Forest University, report the Triad City Beat and the Winston-Salem Journal.

“Do I know today that it’s insensitive? Yes,” Whitney told the Triad City Beat. “I totally regret it.”

Whitney said the group that became known as the Black Student Alliance had written a letter to the student newspaper complaining that the fraternity’s display of the flag was insensitive.

Whitney told the Triad City Beat that he was a member of the student government at the time, and he helped put together an ad hoc committee on race relations to address the issue.

The Kappa Alpha fraternity ended up apologizing for misunderstanding that flying the Confederate flag was insensitive, Whitney said. The fraternity agreed to limit its use of the flag to the yearbook photo and on the weekend of its annual Old South Ball.

“The photo, ironically, was a step forward,” Whitney said.

Whitney said he does his best to provide fairness in his courtroom “and to be colorblind in everything I do.”

Also appearing with the fraternity members in the 1982 photo was Martha Blevins Allman, who is now the admissions director at the university. She apologized last month.

Two lawyers also appeared in Kappa Alpha yearbook group photos with the flag. One of them is J. McLain Wallace Jr., a senior vice president and general counsel of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“I should have known in college that the Confederate battle flag is a hurtful and painful symbol, and I regret that I did not fully understand then what I do today,” Wallace told the Triad City Beat and the Winston-Salem Journal. “I apologize for perpetuating racism and the hurt that has caused others.”

The national Kappa Alpha fraternity banned displays of the Confederate flag in 2001, banned Confederate uniforms in 2010, and banned names of social events associated with the Civil War period in 2016.