In a reckoning with its racist past, the University of Virginia issued redrawn logos for its sports teams that abandon a subtle nod to the slavery that once permeated its campus. The school, which began as a 19th-century passion project of Thomas Jefferson, initially released a new symbol in April for its Cavaliers mascot. The newly curved sword handles depicted on that design were meant to highlight the serpentine walls that form a fence around the garden areas of the school’s Charlotteville campus. However, the serpentine walls don’t have a happy history at UVA: The barriers were designed by Jefferson to block out the views and sounds of slave quarters from students and the public.
“After the release of our new logos on April 24th, I was made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery,” Virginia Athletic Director Carla Williams said Tuesday. The university has offered to exchange any merchandise purchased with the old logos issued in the spring with goods carrying the new symbol.