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University Of Virginia Changes Athletics Logo Due To Reference To Slavery

The University of Virginia says the school's athletic program will change its logo because it contained a reference to the university's history with slavery.

The logo was updated this year to include curves on the handles of sabres that crossed below a prominent ''V," for Virginia. The university said then that the "detail was added to the grip of the sabres that mimics the design of the serpentine walls found on Grounds."

However, many in the community were quick to point out that the serpentine walls on the school's grounds were originally designed to hide enslaved people from public view. Students and professors decried the new design when it was revealed in April, according to the student-run The Cavalier Daily.

"After the release of our new logos on [April 24], I was made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery," Athletic Director Carla Williams said in a statement from the athletic department. "I was not previously aware of the historical perspective. ... 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."

When the logo was initially unveiled, media studies professor Meredith D. Clark was among those who spoke out against the design. She said the university's promotion of the curved handles that mimicked the walls was a bad metaphor and called it "ahistorical."

"There are ways to promote UVA, to develop stellar branding, and to honor/acknowledge the history of this place that don't include integrating ahistorical depictions of these Grounds," Clark said.

The new logo will have smooth sabre handles instead of curved ones.

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Austin Horn is a 2019-2020 Kroc Fellow. He joined NPR after internships at the San Antonio Express-News and Frankfort State-Journal, as well as a couple stints in the service industry. He aims to keep his reporting grounded in the experience of real individuals of all stripes.