Tennessee Gov. says he regrets wearing Confederate uniform in picture from undergrad days

In the latest embarrassment for a politician who finds himself in a racially charged photo surfacing from the past, the governor of Tennessee expressed regrets for his participation

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (AP)

In the midst of controversial blackface and other racially charged yearbook photos, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is the latest politician to have a compromising and insensitive photo of himself surface.

His staff on Thursday confirmed that he is the person pictured in a 1980 Auburn University yearbook photo wearing a Confederate uniform, according to The Tennessean.

This news comes days after his staff members revealed that they were unaware of such photos involving the Tennessee governor.

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In the picture, Lee and another man are seen wearing a Confederate army-style uniform smiling and posing along with two women wearing costumes from the time period.

The image was included in Kappa Alpha fraternity’s section of the university’s yearbook. , Lee had become a member of the fraternity while a college student at the Alabama university.

The fraternity held yearly “Old South” parties where members dressed in Confederate uniforms. Kappa Alpha also displayed a large Confederate flag outside of the fraternity house and held an annual celebration to honor the birthday, Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate army during the Civil War.

Lee admitted that he regretted participating in the parties almost 40 years ago in a statement provided to USA Today Network – Tennessee.

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“I never intentionally acted in an insensitive way, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that participating in that was insensitive and I’ve come to regret it,” Lee said.

His office refused to provide additional comments.

“Old South” parties hosted by Kappa Alpha have been known to take place at other schools including Vanderbilt University and the University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University)

According to the fraternity’s 2018 national order guidelines, university chapters have been prohibited to display Confederate battle flags since 2001. Members wearing Confederate uniforms were prohibited in 2010.

The organization stated, “Chapters shall not sponsor functions with the name Old South or functions with any similar name. All functions and activities must be conducted with restraint and dignity and without trappings and symbols that might be misinterpreted and objectionable to the general public,” The Tennessean reported.

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