A trio of white brothers told Talladega College — the oldest private historically black college in Alabama — that they are returning their deceased parents' honorary doctoral degrees in protest over the school sending its marching band to Republican President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.
"We are certain our parents would not want them under the present circumstances," Peter Rasmussen wrote in a letter with his siblings David and Steven that was posted to Facebook.
"We hope that you will reconsider your decision in recognition of the principled history of the College and of the many people, including our parents, who gave of themselves to advance the cause of social justice and equality in Talladega’s name," the letter noted.
The Rasmussen brothers said their parents, Donald and Lore, taught at Talladega from 1942 to 1955 and "devoted themselves to their students and to the challenges of living in a segregated South" while their children "grew up attending Sessions School, the College’s multi-racial elementary/middle school. It was a happy time for us during which we formed our core values."
More from the letter:
Our mother was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, and she found her way to the United States to escape the exact same policies as those espoused by Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. She studied at Columbia University for one semester, but she quit in disgust when she discovered that Columbia had distinguished itself by being one of the few American universities to curry favor with Hitler’s government by taking part in the 1937 celebration of the 550th anniversary of Heidelberg University in Germany.
In 2003, both Dr. and Mrs. Rasmussen were proud recipients of Honorary Doctorate Degrees in Humane Letters from Talladega College. In the presentation of their degrees, President Henry Ponder noted their “untiring fight to ensure the human dignity of all persons” and that “at great personal peril [they had] led the struggle for civil rights.”
Their parents died since receiving their degrees, but their sons said, "[W]e have no doubt that they would be angered and deeply disappointed if they knew of the plans for Talladega College to pay tribute to Donald Trump by participating in his inaugural. Mr. Trump has demonstrated in innumerable ways, during the electoral campaign and his time as president-elect, that he is the antithesis of all they worked and stood for and of the values they nurtured in their students."
Talladega President Billy Hawkins announced Thursday that the Talladega Marching Tornadoes would participate in Trump's inaugural parade — and the decision caused an uproar among alumni and others, AL.com reported.
But Hawkins doesn't see it that way.
"The lessons students can learn from this experience cannot be taught in a classroom," Hawkins said in a press release. "We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade. As many of those who chose to participate in the parade have said, we feel the inauguration of a new president is not a political event but a civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power."
(H/T: Campus Reform)