Sounds Like Hate is an audio documentary series about the dangers and peril of everyday people who engage in extremism, and ways to disengage them from a life of hatred.
Illustration by Richard Chance
Season 4Episode 1

Wake-Up Call

Students at Virginia Military Institute have exposed rampant racism and false historical narratives.

Wake-Up Call: Part I

June 14, 2022

Founded in 1893, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington is a college embedded in Southern military tradition – which includes an unquestioning respect for the Confederacy. For many years, VMI required its recruits to reenact a Confederate battle, despite the fierce objections of students of color. These students say that was just the start of the racism they endured throughout their time at the school. But in the spring of 2020, a racial reckoning came to VMI after some students and alumni began to air their frustrations and demand change. In this episode of Sounds Like Hate, you’ll hear from those students and alumni. You’ll also discover how they exposed the racism and false historical narratives plaguing an institution that prides itself on producing future leaders. The issues playing out at this state school are intimately tied to Virginia politics and have implications for how our country grapples with the legacy of slavery.

Warning: This account contains graphic descriptions that may trigger some listeners. Discretion is advised.

Read the full transcript here.

The “Wake-Up Call Part One” episode was nominated for a Webby Award in the category is Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Wake-Up Call: Part II

June 21, 2022

Part II of “Wake-Up Call” opens with Matriculation Day at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington – the start of school for first-year students. In years past, this introduction to college life – “hell week” – would have included pretending to be Confederates killing Union soldiers in a battle reenactment and marching past a looming statue of General Stonewall Jackson. But with the statue gone and new Black leadership, sweeping changes are afoot. Racial justice protests in 2020 prompted a state-ordered independent investigation that documented a culture of racism and sexism at the school. What has changed at VMI since then? Have the changes gone far enough in addressing systemic racial inequality? And will the new governor, Glenn Youngkin, threaten VMI’s progress?

Read the full transcript here.

Warning: This account contains graphic descriptions that may trigger some listeners. Discretion is advised.