University of Virginia changes athletics logo over connection to slavery on campus
© University of Virginia

The University of Virginia’s Athletics Department announced this week that it is changing a logo that was unveiled earlier this year over its link to slavery on the school’s Charlottesville grounds.

UVA's logo for the athletic department includes a “V” with two sabers crossed under it, and athletics director Carla Williams said in a Monday statement that changes were made in April to two logos, adding additional lines on the sabers as a reference to the “serpentine walls” 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," Williams said in the Monday statement. "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." 

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She added that she has “worked to better educate myself and that education will continue.

"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."

UVA's original serpentine walls were built in the 1820s. They were later removed, and shorter walls were built in the 1950s.

The department “has started the process of replacing the logos with new versions that return to straight-line handles,” according to the Monday statement.

The Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student newspaper, reported that the athletic department immediately faced backlash from students and staff after the inclusion of the serpentine walls was announced in April.

UVA student Lauren Cochran told the paper at the time that the changes to the logo made her feel “as if they were attempting to ‘glorify’ past University wrongdoings.”

“For many, this wall evokes stringent feelings of emotional distress and pain. As an African-American student who walks past these walls every day, I experience uncomfortable emotions relating to the history and justification of the walls,” Cochran told the paper in April.

The move comes amid nationwide protests over police brutality and racial inequality following the death of George Floyd. Floyd died last month after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest.

The demonstrations have called for a range of police reforms and other initiatives, including the removal of Confederate monuments across the country, as well as memorials to explorer Christopher Columbus and more.