Citadel grad who wrote racist post loses university job

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MCT

A 1982 graduate of The Citadel no longer works at Liberty University after he created and shared a racist post on social media this week, just days into Black History Month, that was made to look like an official statement from his South Carolina alma mater.

Blake DeVolld had been working as an online adjunct professor for Liberty University, a spokesperson for the private Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia, confirmed to The State newspaper Friday in a three-sentence statement.

“We can assure you that Liberty University takes this matter very seriously,” the emailed statement said. “The university has a long standing practice of limiting specific comment on personnel matters. We can confirm Blake DeVolld was an online adjunct professor working remotely but is no longer employed by Liberty University.”

DeVolld did not immediately return multiple phone calls seeking a request for comment. Attempts to leave voicemails were also unsuccessful.

The since-deleted social media post by DeVolld first appeared in a private Facebook group Wednesday, but screenshots of it have outlived the original post and are continuing to circulate online.

The post, which was masquerading as a legitimate news release from the school, suggested that The Citadel was installing a segregated water fountain to celebrate Black History Month.

The offensive social media post prompted outcry from Citadel alumni, especially Black graduates of the school, at a time of year when the military college has been celebrating the racial progress it has made since its founding in 1842.

Instead, on Thursday, The Citadel found itself forcefully condemning the post created by DeVolld, but the school stopped short of mentioning the alumnus by name.

The South Carolina military college characterized the digital creation as “an abhorrent fake news release” that did not reflect the school’s core values of honor, duty and respect.

“The nature of the post was racially offensive,” the school said. “The Citadel will not sit idly by and tolerate comments of this nature.”

The offensive social media post went to great lengths to look like a legitimate news release. The fabricated post used the banner and logo that appears on top of the school’s website and mirrored the text and formatting used by The Citadel in its announcements.

The lookalike write-up also included made-up quotes from Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters, along with Shawn Edwards, The Citadel’s chief inclusive excellence officer, and Bruce Alexander, a 1982 graduate of The Citadel and past president of The Citadel African American Alumni Association.

The falsified post included a doctored photograph of two water fountains, side by side. Above the fountain on the right is a plaque that reads, “African American Cadets Only.”

At this time, it is unclear whether DeVolld lost his job at Liberty University due to the discovery of the social media post, or whether DeVolld is no longer employed there due to unrelated matters.

Liberty University did not immediately return repeated requests for clarification Friday afternoon.

Bruce Alexander, a past president of The Citadel African American Alumni Association, was one of the people named and given made-up quotes in DeVolld’s fake and offensive news release.

On Friday afternoon, shortly before attending an event honoring the first seven African American women to graduate from The Citadel, Alexander said that what DeVolld did does not represent the lessons he and his fellow cadets were taught at the military school in Charleston, S.C.

“If you wear the ring, you can rest assured that if you do something of this nature, you will be ostracized,” Alexander said.

Alexander said he was proud of his alma mater’s response to this incident, saying that he hopes it will send a message to anyone else, be they a current cadet or a former graduate, who thinks this type of conduct is appropriate.

Like DeVolld, Alexander is also a 1982 graduate of The Citadel. Asked if he was surprised by what his classmate did in the private Facebook group, Alexander said no, he was not.

“I’ve known the guy 44 years, and he’s always been that same person, and I just hate that it had to come down to this,” Alexander said. “But sometimes if you make your bed, sometimes you’re going to have lie in it for a little while.”

News of DeVolld’s social media post appeared to circulate quickly and widely.

By Thursday evening, three of his five reviews on the popular Rate My Professors website referenced the social media post about The Citadel.

According to his LinkedIn profile, which has since been taken down, DeVolld has worked at Liberty University since December 2011. Screenshots of his LikedIn profile, which were reviewed by The State, show DeVolld worked as an assistant professor of strategic intelligence and terrorism studies.

His profile also claims he was a senior intelligence specialist in the U.S. Air Force, and worked as a national security policy analyst for the national 2016 Republican presidential campaign for Dr. Ben Carson, who is Black.

This story was originally published February 4, 2022 2:42 PM.

Caitlin Byrd covers the Charleston region as an enterprise reporter for The State. She grew up in eastern North Carolina and she graduated from UNC Asheville in 2011. Since moving to Charleston in 2016, Byrd has broken national news, told powerful stories and documented the nuances of both a presidential primary and a high-stakes congressional race. She most recently covered politics at The Post and Courier. To date, Byrd has won more than 17 awards for her journalism.


https://www.thestate.com/news/charleston/article258054393.html

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