Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Post-Integration (1976-1985)

UR and the Capital of the Confederacy

In 1980, the University of Richmond celebrates its 150 year anniversary and celebrates its history and the city of Richmond in this spread in The Web 1980. This photo collage features various famous sites in the city of Richmond such as the Robert E. Lee monument and an aerial view of the Virginia State Capitol and the surrounding area. The caption describes the city of Richmond as the "Capital of the South" and asserts that the "Jefferson-designed capital, Fan, and Monument Avenue are deemed to remain immortal." The caption concludes that although the University is "far from the central core" of the city, it is a school that "this city can be really proud of." The University of Richmond had strong ties to the Confederate cause as many students and faculty went to fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and Richmond College President Robert Ryland chose to invest the school's endowment into Confederate bonds. When the war was over, one-fifth of the alumni and many members of the student body had been killed, and the school was bankrupt. 

In the fraternity spreads in the post-integration years, portraits of fraternity members in the city of Richmond in places like Monument Avenue and Jackson Ward can be found as they pose in front of the statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Bill Robinson. These images bring to mind the present-day debate over Monument Avenue and the Lost Cause ideology that these statues stand for and symbolize. 

Kappa Sigma 1976

This photo from the Kappa Sigma spread in The Web 1976 features fraternity members posing with the Jefferson Davis Memorial on Monument Avenue. Jefferson Davis was president of the Confederate States of America from 1861-1865. This statue was erected in 1907. 

Theta Chi 1978 

This photo from the Theta Chi spread in The Web 1978 features a fraternity member in blackface. 

Phi Delta Theta 1978

This photo from the Phi Delta Theta spread in The Web 1978 features a woman in blackface. 

Kappa Alpha 1979

This photo from the Kappa Alpha spread in The Web 1979 features fraternity members posing in front of the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. This statue was erected in 1890. 

Sigma Alpha Epsilon 1980

This photo from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon spread in The Web 1980 features fraternity members dressed as Ku Klux Klan members standing around a black man with his neck in a noose at the fraternity lodge.

This photo from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon spread in The Web 1980 features a fraternity member in the top right in blackface and a fraternity member in the bottom left wearing a faux American Indian headdress and face paint. 

Kappa Alpha 1981

This photo from the Kappa Alpha spread in The Web 1981 features fraternity members posing in front of three Confederate flags in the background. 

Pi Kappa Alpha 1983

This text from the Pi Kappa Alpha spread in The Web 1983 features the phrase "once you go Black you never go back" that promotes stereotypes about interracial relationships.

Rush 1984

This photo collage of Greek Rush in The Web 1984 features a photo in the bottom right of Sigma Alpha Epsilon's traditional "North vs. South" drinking competition. The caption for the photo reads, "Civil 'Drinking' War—with a high casualty rate."

Kappa Alpha 1984

This photo from the Kappa Alpha spread in The Web 1984 features the members of Kappa Alpha posing in front of the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. The statue was erected in 1890. Kappa Alpha considers Robert E. Lee the "spiritual founder" of the fraternity, and references to him are frequently seen in their fraternity pages in The Web yearbooks from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Phi Gamma Delta 1985

This photo from the Phi Gamma Delta spread in The Web 1985 features members of Phi Gamma Delta posing in front of the Bill "Bojangles" Robinson statue in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia. The statue was erected in 1973. Bill Robinson was a famous tap dancer and actor and a native of Richmond. He was arguably the best-known and highest-paid black entertainer in the first half of the twentieth century, and throughout his life, he worked to combat racial barriers and racial prejudice. In this photo, fraternity brothers seem to be holding a hand-painted caricature of Bill Robinson dressed in a top hat and skirt while holding a spear, and "Mr. Bojangles" is listed as the 37th member underneath the photo. It is notable that the fraternity brother holding the caricature on the right-hand side is a black student.

Phi Beta Sigma 1983

This photo from The Web 1983 features the first black fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, at the University of Richmond. According to the Collegian article "Phi Beta Sigma Colonizes New Fraternity at Richmond," the creed of the fraternity is "we give another choice" as it offered cultural and social opportunities for black students. The fraternity also incorporated the tradition of stepping. Before the establishment of Phi Beta Sigma, only one black student was a member of a fraternity at the University of Richmond.

Post-Integration (1976-1985)