A minor part of the University of Virginia’s new athletics logo has apparently caused major offense, leading to the announcement that a second new logo will be created.
UVA introduced a new athletics logo on April 24, which featured the school’s large gray “V” outlined in orange with two sabers underneath, Fox News reported. The “grips of the sabers were supposed to mimic ‘the design of the serpentine walls found on the Grounds,’” the outlet reported.
The serpentine walls, however, were originally erected at the school in the 1820s to ensure students and faculty didn’t have to see slaves working on the other side. In the 1950s, the walls were removed and replaced with shorter ones that still occupy the space today. UVA athletics director Carla Williams apologized for the new design of the program’s logo, which featured small marks on the handle of the sabers that looked like grips but apparently represented the walls.
“After the release of our new logos on April 24, I was made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery,” Williams said. “I was not previously aware of the historical perspective indicating the original eight-foot-high walls were constructed to mask the institution of slavery and enslaved laborers from public view.”
“Over the last few weeks, I have worked to better educate myself and that education will continue,” Williams continued.
“There was no intent to cause harm, 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.”
The logos will now be replaced and featured smooth handles on the sabers.
The original intention of the serpentine walls was apparently lost to history until 2018, when a report from a commission created by former UVA president Teresa Sullivan returned its findings of the university’s relationship with slavery. The report from the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University found why the walls were originally built in the 1820s. Even though the walls do not serve that purpose anymore, they are apparently offensive to those who learned of their origins two years ago.
The school is offering fans who ordered new gear with the contested sabers an exchange with the new design.
“The V-Sabre mark is the primary logo for Virginia athletics. The Cavalier Shield mark is one of two new secondary logos intended to be used as detail graphics on uniforms, on social media and on apparel,” UVA Today reported. “Fans who purchased apparel with the new V-Sabre or Cavalier Shield logos between April 24 and June 14 and who are interested in an exchange are asked to email the athletics department”
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