The University of Virginia will change its logo used in athletics to remove references to slavery. The school made the announcement Monday, and it comes on the heels of the school recently updating the logo, which was done on April 24, according to USA Today. Virginia's logo uses a large "V" over crossed sabers with added details to the grip of the sword handles. Those details were meant to "mimic the design of the serpentine walls" found on the school's campus. University founder Thomas Jefferson designed the walls "to muffle the sounds of and hide from view the slaves who toiled on campus." The walls were replaced with shorter versions in the 1950s.
The school said both logos have been altered, taking out the sword handle details, and the team will revert to more traditional "straight-line handles." In a statement, Virginia Athletic Director Carla Williams said: "I was made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery. 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. Williams continued to say the logo "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."
The University of Virginia is modifying its logo. The handles of the sabres below the V were meant to reflect serpentine walls, which have a negative connotation to slavery. pic.twitter.com/iEePGA7THF— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 17, 2020
This comes on the heels of the university establishing a task force that will advise the school how can it improve on racial equality. In an email to the Virginia community, university president Jim Ryan wrote: "I have asked the task force to work expeditiously – to view this work as more of a sprint than a marathon – and to send recommendations to me as soon as possible and no later than early August. "I have encouraged the task force to be thoughtful and bold in their analysis and recommendations."
Ryan went on to write improving on racial equality "is an urgent issue right now – for our country in general, and specifically for the University of Virginia." He added the community should "not shy away from it," and he stated, "Black lives matter, and it is time to redress the negative impact that systemic racism has had on the experience of many students, faculty, staff, and community members here."