Since its founding in 1891 in part by abolitionist Baptist pastor Dr. James B. Simmons, Hardin-Simmons University's commitment to unity in the purpose of Christ's love has been a central value.
For nearly 90 years, Hardin-Simmons University's Six White Horses Program has provided leadership for parades, rodeos, and other official civic and community functions. Beginning with two men, two white horses, and the flags of the United States of America and the State of Texas, this program has grown in notoriety as horses and student riders have served as global ambassadors for HSU.
Born out of a desire to entertain crowds and educate audiences about Texas culture, the parade unit has routinely displayed the six flags of Texas as part of their exhibition. This has included use of the first national flag of the Confederate States of America.
"Each flag carries with it a context," said HSU President Eric Bruntmyer in a letter to HSU faculty and staff. "In ideal circumstances, flags are unifying symbols, serving as common representations of purpose and pride. In other cases, however, flags can be divisive symbols which create conflict and disunity."
Beginning with the 2017-18 Academic Year, HSU's Six White Horses Program will not use any flag representing the Confederate States of America.
Bruntmyer, the HSU Board of Trustees, and the University's Administrative Leadership Team recently began exploring ways HSU might speak to racial reconciliation in our community. During this exploration, HSU examined how the practice of using any flag of the Confederacy reflected misalignment with the university's history, core values, and future goals.
"More than anything, we look to scripture to inform us on how to live as faithful Christ-followers. "We desire to do what is right - to be family together and good neighbors to all. We want to stand in unity with the image of God reflected in every person," said Bruntmyer.
"In making this decision," Bruntmyer said, "I want to acknowledge the proud history and significance of our Six White Horses Program, its leadership, and the riders over the years who have served so faithfully as global ambassadors."
HSU's Six White Horses will continue to proudly and prominently feature the flags of the United States of America and the State of Texas in their performances.