CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -University of Virginia Athletics is once again making changes to its logos after controversy over a subtle detail.
The new designs, originally introduced in April, originally featured a serpentine spiral on the sabres, meant to mimic the walls found on grounds.
The design has been modified after athletic directors were made aware that those serpentine walls were originally constructed to keep enslaved laborers on campus from public view.
Directors at Virginia Athletics apologized for the error, saying there was no intent to cause harm, and that they will work hard to better educate themselves in the future.
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Virginia Athletics Media Release:
Charlottesville, VA – Virginia athletics director Carla Williams announced today (June 15) changes have been made to two of the new marks the department released on April 24. The sabres that are featured in the new V-Sabre logo, and on the Cavalier shield, have been changed to remove the curves that were added to the handles.
At the time of the marks unveiling, it was noted that “detail was added to the grip of the sabres that mimics the design of the serpentine walls found on Grounds.”
“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. 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 original serpentine walls, built in the 1820s, were later removed to allow for more space in the alleyways behind the Pavilions. In the 1950s the current walls were constructed with a wider berth and are shorter in height than the original walls.
The Virginia athletics department has started the process of replacing the logos with new versions that return to straight-line handles.
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.