Twenty-five years later, in 1991, Charleston television reporter Angela Brown reported that a group known on campus as the Churchill Society contained within it a white-supremacist faction. Brown happened to be the girlfriend of The Citadel's starting quarterback, Jack Douglas, a black senior. And though The Citadel has said that the Churchill Society met only to discuss Western civilization, Brown stands staunchly by her story.
"All of my friends who went to it said it was a white-supremacy group," says Raymond Mazyck, a black who in 1991 was a senior. Mazyck, from north Charleston, was convicted by the school's Honor Court of encouraging a freshman to lie about how he had gotten a gash in his head a year earlier. What had happened was that a cadet had been forced to do bunk push-ups, and the bunk had flipped and struck the freshman. It was Mazyck, an eyewitness to it all, who had taken the freshman to the infirmary that day. But a year later the freshman said Mazyck had told him to make up a story about the injury so that the freshman could not be racked for being a snitch. The Citadel code of honor says, "A cadet does not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate those who do." Mazyck stuck to his original story, but the Honor Court believed the freshman. Mazyck was sentenced to be expelled, though he appealed the decision.
But what really went on in the Honor Court that day? Was it just a fluke that the head of the Churchill Society, Christopher Carrier, was also the Honor Court chairman? And was it just Lieutenant General Watts's sense of justice that caused him to overturn the verdict and reinstate Mazyck, or could it have been a lawsuit threatened by the Charleston chapter of the NAACP?
In 1986 five white cadets went into the bunk room of black freshman Kevin Nesmith, the brother of the only black member of the board of visitors. Wearing sheets—and pillowcases over their heads—and holding a burning paper cross, they mumbled Nesmith's name and uttered racial obscenities. The five were convicted of violating the Fourth Class System, but it was Nesmith who left school and never got his degree. Today all five of his assailants wear the Citadel ring.
"Race relations are not a problem at The Citadel," says Watts, but the school's strategic planning report in 1988 found that 56% of black cadets—7% of the student population is black—said they were discriminated against "because of race." Have things changed in four years? "I've heard guys call me 'boy,' " says running back Jason Pryor, a sophomore this season. Wrestler Robert Reaves says he was called a "stupid nigger" last year, when he was a freshman. The school formed a committee to study race relations; it recommended that the playing of Dixie and the waving of Confederate flags at football games be discouraged.
Good luck. At The Citadel, Confederate pride still runs high. At a Friday lunch last year a senior announced the Senior of the Week award. It went to the cadet who had climbed 700 feet up the Channel 2 tower in Charleston to hang the Confederate flag. Cheers rocked the mess hall, but at one table two black football players simply stared down at their plates. They were Douglas, the quarterback, and Kelly Fladger, the star cornerback.
You either believe in The Citadel wholly or you don't last. Five days before the Wofford loss freshman Brian Alewine, a white baseball pitcher, was in the shower room with a black freshman he didn't know. Two other cadets came in and began taunting the black cadet.
"Did you see Mississippi Burning?" they asked him. "How about Lords of Discipline'? Did you see the scene where they pour gasoline on the black guy? You know that——could happen right here if you stay. You know that, right?"
The black cadet didn't flinch, but something inside Alewine couldn't take it.