The Atlantic

The Long Shadow of Racism at the University of Virginia: From 1817 to the Charlottesville Riots

A year after white-supremacist violence broke out in the university town, UVA grapples with a centuries-old legacy of slavery and racial discrimination.

In the 1800s, the University of Virginia rented human beings as a cost-saving measure. These people—mostly men—helped build the institution. Literally. They were mainly put to work constructing buildings on campus. Some of their names are in the university records. Willis, Warner, Gilbert, and so on. It was never a question that renting enslaved people was something that the university would do. After all, several members of the board when the university was founded were “serial renters” of human beings. But the rented laborers weren’t the

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