New UVA athletics logos included detail paying homage to slavery on Grounds
Turns out one of the details added inadvertently paid homage to an architectural feature used to mask the institution of slavery on Grounds.
“After the release of our new logos on April 24th, I was made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery,” University of Virginia Athletics Director Carla Williams said Monday.
The new marks released by the athletics department on April 24 featured curves that had been added to the handles.
At the time of the unveiling of the new marks, it was noted that “detail was added to the grip of the sabres that mimics the design of the serpentine walls found on Grounds.”
Those walls were constructed in the 1820s to mask enslaved laborers from public view.
The original walls were removed to allow for more space in the alleyways between the Pavilions, and later replaced with new walls built in the 1950s.
The news today is a reminder of the uncomfortable history behind the founding of the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president and the author of the Declaration of Independence, owned more than 600 slaves over the course of his life, and the wealth that created his famed Monticello and allowed him to devote his energies to public life.
The hallowed Grounds was built with slaves rented from local landowners working alongside whites and free blacks, and slave labor was utilized on Grounds all the way to the end of the Civil War in 1865.
Williams, the first African-American woman to serve as an athletics director at a Power 5 school, said today in a statement that “(t)here was no intent to cause harm” with the new logos, “but we did, and for that I apologize to those who bear the pain of slavery in our history. As such, we have redesigned the logos to remove that detail. All other aspects of the logos will remain the same.”
Fans who purchased apparel with the new V-Sabre or Cavalier Shield logos between April 24 – June 14 and who are interested in an exchange are asked to email the athletics department at firstname.lastname@example.org.