Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has issued an apology after a photo of him wearing a Confederate army uniform surfaced from his time in college.
The picture shows him on the far right wearing the uniform at a Kappa Alpha Order fraternity party while attending Auburn University in 1980.
Lee issued a statement Thursday saying he didn’t mean to intentionally hurt anyone and regrets wearing the Confederate uniform in 1980.
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The photo was taken at what the fraternity referred to as an “Old South” party.
In the photo, Lee is seen standing next to three other people who were also wearing costumes.
Lee attended Auburn from 1977 until graduating in 1981 and was a member of Kappa Alpha Order.
The governor also has stated he never wore black face.
The same parties were thrown by the Gamma Gamma chapter of Kappa Alpha on the campus of Memphis State University.
FOX13 looked through online year books from Memphis State and found pictures from the 1950s through the 1990s of Kappa Alpha throwing “Old South” parties or displaying confederate images.
In one yearbook from the 1970s, a camera captured members of Kappa Alpha at Memphis State performing in black face.
Even other fraternities displayed harsh insensitive images in the yearbooks – one with a student with a noose around his neck from the 70s.
Kappa Alpha has banned members from wearing Confederate uniforms at their events since at least 2010, and they banned displaying Confederate battle flags since at least 2001, according to national order guidelines.
Below is the full statement issued by Lee regarding the photo surfacing:
“Although I have never acted to intentionally hurt anyone, I have the benefit of 40 years of hindsight to see that participating was insensitive and I’ve come to regret it.”
Fraternity leaders also responded to the controversial photos. Kappa Alpha issued the following statement:
"It is well known that the fraternity has consistently reviewed and revised policies regarding all social events conducted by individual chapters to ensure actions were in line with our core values. These include the prohibition of any trappings and nomenclature associated with the Civil War period."
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